Wednesday, October 25, 2006
double dog dare
So The Natalies are chillin' in the back of Reg and Max's Prius, driving through the streets of San Francisco. The trunk is filled with copies of DT, which we joke about hawking a la Master P. We just left the UC-Berkeley campus where we'd given back-to-back DT talks at the graduate journalism school and the graduate black studies department. We have a few minutes to kill before we have dinner with the staff at Cleis. Since Nat M. volunteers in the Chicago office of the writer Dave Eggers' nonprofit, 826 Valencia she had emailed him with an invitation to check out our reading at Modern Times books in San Fran. Eggers emailed his regrets he couldn't make the reading. But he left her a message that said good to hear from you and why don't you stop by? Sitting in the Prius, The Natalies look at each other and shrug. Despite his familiar tone, Nat M. has never met The Dave Eggers, literary it-boy. His offices were within walking distance of both our dinner spot and the bookstore. So why not?
"I dare you to make Dave Eggers come outside and buy a copy of DT out-the-trunk," Natalie H. says. "You know, so he can get the "authentic" hip-hop experience."
"You aren't daring me are you?" Nat M. says. "You aren't daring me are you?"
"I double dog dare you," Natalie H. replies. Maxine and Reggie laugh.
Scene II: Eggers greets us warmly at the offices of McSweeneys. Nat M. immediately points out that, they have, in fact, never met. Oops! Meets so many people...happens all the time....wife is always getting on him 'bout that.
He politely asks to see the book. He flips through the pages of DT with what looks like genuine interest. DT rests on his desk and we talk for about 20 minutes. We're thinking, this he's mad cool and down to earth! Eggers is humble, friendly and generous with advice about book marketing strategy, industry politics, the benefits of being with a small press versus a big press. Then Natalie M. makes an observation.
"One of the reasons that our publisher likes us is that we know how to hustle books," Nat M. begins. "So...we won't make you go outside to our trunk. But we can offer you that copy in your hands for the deep, deep discount of 10 dollas." A tickled Nat. H can't believe the dare worked. She giggles and takes a picture. Notice Nat. M's loud bracelets. Hey...we're just trying to move units!