David (Dave) Eggers became a household name after the enormous success of his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Before long, he parlayed his popularity (and royalties) into starting a literary press that produced a quarterly magazine (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern) as well as hardback literary books, often of the experimental variety (McSweeney’s Books).
The third of four children, Eggers was born in 1970 in Boston and raised by his parents in the prestigious Lake Forest suburb of Chicago. Eggers’s father was an attorney and his mother a teacher. While attending college at the University of Illinois in 1991, twenty-one-year-old Eggers learned that his mother was dying of stomach cancer, and after returning home for winter break he stayed to help care for her. As detailed in Eggers’s memoir, the decline of his mother was slow and painful, and the tension caused by her suffering affected the entire family. While steeling themselves for their mother’s death, however, the Eggers siblings were shocked by the sudden death of their father in November, 1991, from lung cancer. Less than two months later, Eggers’s mother had also passed away, and the siblings—twenty-four-year-old Bill, twenty-three-year-old Beth, and Eggers—were faced with the question of raising their brother Toph (short for Christopher), who was about to turn eight years old.
Before long, it was decided that Beth would return to Berkeley, California, to attend law school, and that Eggers and Toph would live in San Francisco. Bill would soon move to California as well. Not surprisingly for a young man of college age, Eggers had a hard time adjusting to a life centered upon raising an eight-year-old. In addition to the new responsibilities this brought, he used a sizable portion of his inheritance to help found Might magazine in 1994 with his Lake Forest friends David Moodie and Marny Requa, who had also moved to San Francisco. Might published only sixteen issues and never exceeded a circulation of thirty thousand, but it garnered a cult following and a reputation for wit, savvy media satire, and irreverence. Might gained national notoriety when it printed a eulogy for former child television star Adam Rich...
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