One of my favorite people, Craig Hodgkins, tagged me for a fun little book meme, because I am, to quote Craig, “quite the literary type.” (Thank you for that, Craig!!) Craig is very cool; he worked for Disney for sixteen years, likes Roger Miller, and plays the ukelele in the office (well, not every day).
On the surface, the task is simple. Here are the rules:
• Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
• Open the book to page 123.
• Find the fifth sentence.
• Post the next three sentences.
• Tag five people (I will refrain from this only because I do not know anyone who would humor me).
The first three books that I tried for this didn’t work. One had material inappropriate for a blog (don’t get the wrong idea; it was just Kerouac), another was a less-than-stirring description of a room (Jane Eyre), and the third book just had “Chapter 8” on page 123 (Ishmael).
The closest book to me right now, however, will suffice. It is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Last year, I could not escape from hearing the name of this book—friends were reading it, raving about it, and recommending it all around me. When I found a used copy in Seattle at Christmastime, I knew I had to grab it. Here is why I loved used books—in mine is written: “To Bob, Because you are a ‘Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’ and cause I started reading it and he’s kinda funny. Love Bob.” That just makes me smile. Anyway, I just started reading it this week and, clever as it is, wonder if it will live up to the hype.
Here’s the requested passage (I’m actually going to post more than three sentences because it will be funnier):
Outside it’s blue-black and getting darker. There is a man walking up the steps. He is unshaven and is wearing sandals and a poncho made from, one can be almost sure, hemp. I do not want to talk to this man. I have talked to the man from the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG). I have donated to the couple from the women’s shelter, and to that little boy from the youth group, to the woman from the Green Party, the kids from the Boys Club, the pair of solemn teenagers from SANE/FREEZE. The Berkeley-ness of Berkeley, so charming at first, is getting old.
The bell rings.
“You get it,” I say. “I’m not here.”
“You’re right next to it.”
He gets up, sock-footed. I am given a look.
“Tell them you’re home alone,” I say. “You’re an orphan.”
He opens the door and says something to the man and suddenly the man is in our living room. What did I just say—
Oh. The baby-sitter. Stephen.