Emperor-without-clothes Dept:

Joy Press: Eggers on His Face:

“Let’s try an experiment. Pretend you know nothing about Dave Eggers. You’ve never read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, never set eyes on McSweeney’s archly antiquated typeface. You’ve perused neither the Web sites mocking him nor the puff pieces lionizing him. Dave Eggers is just a fledgling novelist who has produced a self-published debut called You Shall Know Our Velocity.

In an ideal world, this is how a critic should approach You Shall Know: separate the book from the miasma of hype and cult of personality that surrounds its author, and consider the work as an entity in itself. The novel doesn’t have a sleeve or a first page, only a rough-hewn cover that serves as the story’s first page. “Everything within takes place after Jack died and before my mom and I drowned in a burning ferry in the cool tannin-tinted Guaviare River”: Not a classic first line, but not a complete stinker. By the bottom of the cover, though, he’s dropping clunkers about “wind coming low and searching off the jagged half-frozen lake.” If my mind were a critical blank slate, I might have stopped reading right there. But OK, I do know something about Eggers, and so the benefit of the doubt kicks in: Maybe this is a pastiche of an overwritten novel that will unfurl into majestic cleverness.” [more] Village Voice