Chicago-area native Dave Eggers will visit Lincoln Square’s Book Cellar from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 to sign copies of his latest book, “A Hologram for the King.”
Suzy Takacs, owner of the independent book store, said she found out last week Eggers would be coming, thanks to her sales team.
“We’re really excited to have this opporunity,” she said. “Our sales rep called us and said, ‘would you like to do this event?’ We’re thrilled.”
Takacs said the store will have copies of “Hologram” for the sale that day as well as the author’s “past treasures as well.”
Eggers may be best known for his 2000 memoir, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” as well as his work on screenplays for the movies “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Away We Go.” He grew up in Lake Forest, IL and lived in the area until both his parents died while he was a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He moved to the San Francisco Bay area after their deaths and became the guardian of his younger brother, who was eight at the time.
One Chicago writer with ties to both Eggers and the Book Cellar is particularly enthused about the upcoming meet-and-greet this weekend. Keith Ecker , a key figure in Chicago’s growing “live literature” scene, volunteers for 826CHI , a chapter of a nonprofit founded by Eggers. He was also published last month on McSweeney ‘s, Eggers’ digital publishing house.
Additionally, the Book Cellar is the old stomping grounds of Ecker, who, up until earlier this winter, hosted a live lit event called Essay Fiesta every month at the store. Essay Fiesta continues, but under the leadership of new curators.
“He’s probably one of the best known authors of the latter half of the 20 th century and of the 21 st thus far,” said Ecker about Eggers. “So to have him at the Book Cellar, a great independent book store, is pretty amazing.”
Ecker said he is thankful of Eggers’ commitment to mentoring and teaching young writers through efforts like 826CHI, for which Ecker teaches memoir writing workshops to the older children who participate in the program.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have these volunteer opportunities,” said Ecker. “He’s highly influential. Along with sources of inspiration [like] Ira Glass and [the late] David Rakoff, he’s part of that echelon of amazing, nerdy intellectual writer types.”
Ecker estimates that around $3,000 has been raised for 826CHI by collecting donations at free live lit events he has helped curate. This includes shows with Essay Fiesta, and Ecker’s new venture Guts & Glory , which he runs the third Wednesday of each month at Powell’s Bookstore with humorist author and blogger Samantha Irby .
Ecker’s ties to Egger don’t end with 826CHI. His fictional work, “Santax, the Miracle Drug” was published by Egger’s own McSweeney’s just days before Christmas last month.
“I’ve been pushing myself to get published more and McSweeney’s was on the top of my list,” said Ecker. He’d had the idea for the Santax piece for over a year, and expanded on it. He submitted it to McSweeney’s, whose policy is to get back to those who contact them with work within two weeks, said Ecker.
“I didn’t hear back, so I emailed them again several days before Christmas, knowing it would lose its relevancy after,” Ecker said. “A couple hours after, they emailed me back and said they’d love to publish it.”
Ecker said that while he tends to be more stoic and humble as a writer, this was one of the few times in his writing career where he allowed himself some celebration. He said he hopes to be published there again and possibly through some other venues McSweeney’s boasts.
“I am a huge fan of McSweeney’s,” he said. “It’s one of those relevant digital literary journals that has impeccable writing and is usually insightful and hilarious.”
The Book Cellar is located at 4736 N Lincoln Ave.