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.]