One Man Zeitgeist: David Eggers, Publishing and Publicity by Caroline D. Hamilton
Publication Date: October 21, 2010
Publishing innovator Dave Eggers has done it again. Well, he hasn't actually. In fact, it's Caroline Hamilton, McKenzie Research Fellow in the Department of Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne, who has done it this time. What exactly has she done you ask? She has written an extensive analysis of the work of Dave Eggers, charting his rise to fame in careful detail offering analysis of the circumstances of his success and their effects on the production of his literary oeuvre. As both a memoirist and novelist Eggers has distinguished himself from his cohort of young American authors by insisting on seizing the reins of his publishing output. The nature of this independent streak is given attention in this study; particularly the cultural circumstances of a digitalized, consumer society in which books and literature are primarily commodities.
We’ve all read or heard of Eggers’ own account of his rise to fame, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and in this book Hamilton takes a scholarly approach to the man himself and his impact on the literary culture of our country. The title: One Man Zeitgeist, however is barely a step down on the ego-pumping, yet overtly ironic, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
Don’t believe me? Ask the critics…
'A gorgeous three-dimensional map of Dave Eggers' career to date. Hamilton's fun-to-read, lively prose sketches Eggers' uneasy relation to the publishing and publicity industries, his paradoxical philanthropy, and his bold experiments with voice. Here and there, she tactfully introduces illuminating snippets from cultural critics, but the real highlights of this analysis are the many original provocations that pepper One Man Zeitgeist. In Hamilton's capable hands, Eggers' career gives readers a window into the literary preoccupations of the rapidly graying Generation X.'
-Caren Irr, Associate Professor of English and American Literature, Brandeis University, USA
'Caroline Hamilton is absolutely right when she says that, in the contemporary world, 'it is not books but authors who are judged by their covers.' This is true of no one more than Dave Eggers, one of the most significant figures on the recent U.S. literary scene, a figure alternately adored and reviled both because of his own writing and as a result of his profound influence as an editor and publisher. Poised at the nexus of a number of significant fields, including cultural theory, media studies, the history of publishing, and contemporary literary criticism, One Man Zeitgeist makes a strikingly original contribution to existing scholarship, not only in its local focus — the first full-length, multi-dimensional study of the work and the constructed persona of Dave Eggers — but also in its broader implications for studies of the autobiography, of the place of literature in the contemporary media landscape, and of the role of the author in the culture of celebrity.'
– Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor of English and Media Studies, Pomona College, USA.