We know you’re as desperate as we are to get your hands on Dave Eggers’s latest volume of self-indulgence, so we’re sure you ran out to your local Borders to pick up a copy. Perhaps you tried downtown first, at the store across from Trinity Church, where you quickly discovered that there were no books in stock. Next you might have tried midtown, that big Borders at Park and 57th, where you discovered the same deal: no new Eggers books. Likewise further east, at the Borders on Second Avenue in Murray Hill, and further west, at the Time Warner Center shop. Finally, a clerk would speculate that Eggers’s notorious anti-corporatist impulses were at play, that he’d insisted indie stores get the first shot at selling, before chain behemoths like Borders. But then you’d check the Barnes & Noble in Rockefeller Center, and you’d learn that — lo and behold — that chain store was well stocked with What Is The What. So what gives? Is Borders out to get Eggers? Is Eggers out to get Borders? Is it a big, postmodern joke we’re just not clever enough to get? None of the above, as it turns out. “He’s a big author for us, honestly,” explained a spokesman at Borders HQ in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “McSweeney’s just had problems with shipping.” No New York–area Borders have the book, and they won’t for a few more days. Staggeringly heartbreaking, indeed.
— Amos Barshad