If I was Dave Eggers the artist, I would hate the reviews that my new novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, has been receiving. Almost invariably, they begin with extended discussions about Dave Eggers: his life, his exploits and, especially, his money. I'm guessing he would really hate a review that began by pointing out that his reviews tend to begin by discussing Dave Eggers.

Briefly, Eggers is the former editor of Might, a hip satirical magazine from the '90s which never quite made it financially (but which reliable sources tell me was brilliant), as well as a former editor at Esquire. He's also the founder and editor of McSweeney's, a "zine" which publishes experimental writing, oddball humor and interviews. In addition, he is a terror in the publishing world.

Eggers' autobiography, modestly titled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, sold about 800,000 copies in the U.S., between the hardcover and paperback versions. It made Eggers wealthy, but it also made him infamous. He fired his agent. He twisted the paperback publisher's arm almost to the breaking point by demanding a small fortune and creative control (as opposed to simply editorial control) of the whole product. He got into quarrels with members of the press, including The New York Times.

Charges that Eggers had "sold out" appear to have stung the most. In his famous temper tantrum to The Harvard Advocate, Eggers complained that his fans thought him a sellout  "because my book has sold many copies. And because I have done many interviews. And because I have let people take my picture." Writing last May in Seattle's alternative hipper-than-thou weekly The Stranger, reviewer Christine Wenc complimented Amy Fusselman's The Pharmicist's Mate (brought out by the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.