Author Dave Eggers, visiting Colorado in May, continues to surprise

Dave Eggers is thinking a lot about freedom these days, and nature, and what he wants to contribute to literature and literacy.

Eggers’ most recent book appears to be a throwback to the days when books were our most treasured possessions: tangible entertainment in the form of beloved stories, memorable characters, settings that enchanted us, stylish writing that rewarded us for being bookish.

The accomplished author (“Zeitoun,” “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” “The Circle”) and artist — who has his own publishing house, McSweeney’s, as well as a nonprofit youth writing center, 826 Valencia — has become an influencer in an intentionally non-social-media manner. As a 53-year-old husband and father of two teenagers, Eggers is interested in creating experiences for readers of all ages, while helping young writers develop skills that are fully human in this time of ChatGPT.

His newest novel, “The Eyes and The Impossible,” simply looks unlike anything else on a contemporary bookshelf. A bamboo hardcover laser cut to create the fringe of a forest framing a golden meadow where an unleashed canine bounds joyfully sets the tone. The pages have rounded corners and gilded edges. (Who does this in 2023?) At an inch thick and with child-holdable dimensions of 8-by-6 1/2 inches, Eggers describes the book as “heavy in the hand.” That’s the feel he wanted after spotting a fancy bamboo greeting card in a post office lobby.

“I’ve been publishing for 25 years now, and I’m always looking for new techniques or resurrections of old techniques,” Eggers explained. “So I sent the greeting card to the printer and asked, ‘Can we do this?’ We went back and forth for two years on this design.”

Large, 19th-century typeface supports the old-fashioned aesthetic. The crowning touch is a series of classical landscape paintings by artists of centuries past, chosen to adorn the cover and endpapers, making cameos throughout the book about every 25 pages. Artist Shawn Harris embellished the paintings with images of the main character, Johannes, within each pastoral scene.

Johannes the fast-running canine is known as “The Eyes” of an urban park that he and his animal friends inhabit. It is his job to give daily reports to a trio of bison corralled in one ranger-controlled section of the park.

The wild animals, with names like Sonja, Freya, Sharif and Bertrand, are wary of human activity encroaching from the surrounding city. Captivity is to be dodged daily and escaped from. This becomes the seemingly impossible mission that Johannes adopts with the help of his furry and feathered friends.

“I had more fun writing this story than any book, maybe ever! There was no research to do or facts to check,” Eggers said of the adventure one might assume was dreamed up for children. (Amazon advertises it for ages 8-12.) It wasn’t Eggers’ intent. “There should be a category of all-ages where you could be 8 or 78 and ideally the story delights and entertains. My goal was to make an every-age book.”

Advanced vocabulary words like “concavity,” “cavorting” and “chartreuse” pepper every page like knowing winks at bookworms who appreciate clever word-smithery. This book is begging to be read aloud to oneself and to others. You’ll want to use your most special bookmark and find an honored place to keep this gem.

Eggers’ most recent novel for adults, “The Every,” published in 2021, also addresses the loss of freedom and will have you chuckling at the absurdity of a cultish tech monopoly’s rise to power, and squirming while you ask yourself whether human survival could ultimately depend on surrender to a tech-guided future. Is resistance futile? The follow-up to his 2013 novel “The Circle” works as a standalone, but builds on the trajectory established in the world where personal privacy was aggressively being usurped by a tech company’s power-hungry leadership.

“Every so often, I have to tell a story that scares people into remembering we are animals not meant to live indoors staring at screens,” Eggers said. After “The Circle,” he kept taking notes on developments until he felt he had enough material for another book. “I tried to give this one more satire and jokes to keep it light.”

Eggers’ longtime collaborator Dion Graham performs the audiobook version of “The Every” to perfection. “I do love the audiobook form; it’s in such a renaissance state,” Eggers said. Graham has recorded all of Eggers’ books since “What Is the What” came out 15 years ago.

Will there be a sequel to “The Every”?

“This is the only follow-up I’ve ever done. My wife, Vendela, who is also a writer, said some of the saddest words in the English language are ‘planned trilogy,’ and she’s right,” Eggers laughed. “I don’t know what’s next. I’m surrounded by tech here in San Francisco; it’s in the air I breathe and the water I drink. It keeps getting weirder.”

Dave Eggers will be at Boulder Books for a book signing on May 7 at 5 p.m. He is the final author in The Denver Post Pen & Podium’s sold-out, five-part lecture series wrapping up on May 8. If you are interested in becoming a subscriber for the 2023-24 season, get information at and sign up for Early Bird Advanced Ticket Information here.

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