A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Dave Eggers has become one of San Francisco’s most beloved literary figures. Since rocketing to fame in 2000 with his Pulitzer Prize-nominated memoir, A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, Eggers went on to found McSweeney’s, a literary press, and 826 Valencia, now a national nonprofit writing and tutoring center for kids. In the past few years, Eggers has been prolific. He’s written half a dozen critically acclaimed novels and short story collections and racked up enough awards to wallpaper a room. But most impressive, A Heart-Breaking Work stands up to the test of time. Sixteen years later, I still think about a particular passage every time I drive south on Highway 1 and pass Montara Beach. Vividly, I picture Dave and his younger brother Toph tossing a frisbee, waves crashing onto the sand, the Pacific Ocean breeze blowing away just a little of the heartbreak of losing their parents to cancer. That’s a long time for a scene in a book to stay with you.
Summer in San Francisco means one thing: the return of our native son, Karl the Fog. Yes, that damp, grey blight on our fair city has a name—and an Instagram account. While tourists visiting the city huddle in fleece sweatshirts they bought at Pier 39 and misquote Mark Twain (no, he never wrote “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”), we locals know better than to put away our winter jackets.
Karl puts a serious damper on beach reads, so rather than reviewing summery titles, we’ll embrace the chill and round up five of our favorite books about the chilly city we call home. If you’re going to San Francisco, wear flowers in your hair if you must. But more importantly, wear layers, and bring an extra book. You might want to stay indoors.
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