Et Tu, Beth?

Harper’s Magazine, August 2000, p. 23.

[The fol­low­ing quo­ta­tions are from cor­re­spon­dence between Beth Eggers, Dave Eggers’s older sister, and Gary Baum, who writes a column devoted to the Dave Eggers phe­nom­e­non on his webzine, My Manifesto, ( The se­lec­tions ap­peared in Baum’s April 17 column.]

I am the sister who sup­pos­edly “helped out” while Dave “raised his little brother alone.” 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. I took Chris to lacrosse practice, comic-book stores, stayed overnight at Dave’s all the time because he was up all night in San Fran­cisco doing his magazine.

What I am unhappy about is that I was the one who solely took care of my parents and Chris for a year in Chicago while they were dying (Dave came home some weekends). I took a year off from law school to do it and worked sixteen-hour days caring for two sick people while running the house and car­pool­ing Chris, helping with homework, reading to him, etc. I sold the house, found the five of us a place to live in Berke­ley the first summer, found Chris a school to go to. Maybe the reason no one is in­ter­view­ing me is that I’m not listed and Dave has pur­posely not given out my phone number. He is still angry with me about some things–during the last year of Chris’s time in California, I was going through an ugly divorce, and Dave did most of the work, and I saw very little of Chris (but that’s out of SIX YEARS). Dave decided on his own to move to New York with Chris, without con­sult­ing me. It ab­solutely broke my heart. After that, we’ve had little contact. But I am listed in the will, by my mother, as Chris’s legal guardian, and I par­tic­i­pated in all the ac­tiv­i­ties Dave did for six years.

Dave used my journal to refresh his rec­ol­lec­tion about many things–that’s why he thanked me in the ac­knowl­edg­ments and prob­a­bly also because he felt guilty for mis­rep­re­sent­ing things. I still don’t have the journal back. No offer of royalties. But he did take me to Mexico with my broth­ers for Christmas, so I guess that’s something.

[Dave Eggers’s response (including ex­tracts from a “clarifying” email from Beth).]

[Update May 2015: in No­vem­ber 2001 Beth Eggers com­mit­ted suicide.]