Dave Eggers discovered that even at the big New York magazines, they still make you show up for no reason, just like real jobs
Last night Dave Eggers, erstwhile writer of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
and the founder of the literary magazine McSweeney’s
, came to the Cleveland Public Library to talk about art — as well as the soul-killing experience of being a writer in New York, including his short-lived job at Esquire.
“You had to go in every day, even if you didn’t need to,” he said, apparently alarmed by this basic concept of employment. “You also had to look stylish, and I’m not,” he added, also alarmed by another basic concept of working for a magazine loaded up with really stinky perfume ads. “This is my one jacket – and I’ve had it for 14 years.”
Among other complaints, Eggers griped for five minutes about the ridiculous paperwork processes at the big magazines. “To even mail a letter, you needed to fill out an expense form, just so you could get a stamp.”
It was no surprise, then, when the Midwestern boy decided to hightail it out of the city after less than a year. “I never even finished one story while I was there. I got so paralyzed as to what would happen to it” -- the endless rewrites, the merciless edits, the beautiful, innocent sentences mercilessly killed on the copy-editing floor. “It’s like you give birth to this child and he’s whisked away from you and the next thing you know he’s dressed in lederhosen.” -- Rebecca Meiser