TRAGEDY has again struck Dave Eggers, who wrote about the death of his parents
in "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." The writer’s older sister,
Beth, has committed suicide.
Eggers’ relationship with Beth, a Modesto, Calif., lawyer, had been rocky
since the 1999 publication of his best-selling memoir detailing his parents’
fatal cancer. In April 2000, Beth publicly criticized Eggers for minimizing the
role she played in caring for their dying parents and helping to raise their
"I am the sister who supposedly ‘helped out’ while Dave ‘raised his
little brother alone,' " she e-mailed a "Friends of Eggers" fan site. "Yeah,
right. I only picked him up from school every day, went to all the school
events with Dave, although you’d never know it from reading all the reviews
and the book."
Harper’s magazine picked up the story several months later. Not long after,
Beth recanted her statements on Dave Eggers’ own Web site, mcsweenys.net.
"Sometimes you look back on something you said or wrote and you just can’t
believe the words came out of you," she explained. "I’m so embarrassed. I was
having a really terrible LaToya Jackson moment."
If not for the sibling squabble, Beth Eggers’ suicide last November might
never have been revealed. Atlantic Monthly was planning a 10,000-word article
about the "Friends of Eggers" webmaster, Gary Baum, 18. But when someone in the
Eggers camp told editor Michael Kelly that Beth had killed herself, the piece
was spiked by mutual agreement of Kelly and author Keith Gessen.
"It was a lighthearted, funny story. It made fun of Dave and Gary," Gessen
tells PAGE SIX. "Once Beth committed suicide, it was no longer funny. It’s
extremely baffling and upsetting."
While several sources suggested the story of Beth’s suicide could actually be
another one of Eggers’ elaborate media hoaxes, Gessen says, "That would fall
out of the realm of any possible human behavior."
Word of the article’s cancellation, however, quickly set off a paranoia storm
among publishing insiders. The Underground Literary Alliance - which last made
the news by starting a quixotic campaign against "The Ice Storm" author Rick
Moody for accepting grants - charges Gessen "fled from" the story fearing
reprisals from Eggers and his fans.
"Obviously Dave didn’t want the story to come out," Gessen says, but he
insists Eggers’ feelings had nothing to do with the decision. "The question
we put to ourselves was, would we have embarked on this story in the first
place if we had known Beth had killed herself? The answer was no."
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"PUSSSYKATT" <agcgoss...@aol.com> wrote in message
Oh, wow......very, very sad. I loved this book. I know there are plenty of
people who didn't but it touched me deeply.