…there is no logic to San Francisco generally, a city built with putty and pipe cleaners, rubber cement and colored construction paper. It’s the work of fairies, elves, happy children with new crayons. Why not pink, purple, rainbow, gold? What color for a biker bar on 16th, near the highway? Plum. Plum. The light that is so strong and light that corners are clear, crisp, all glass is blinding—stilts and buttresses and turrets—the remains of various highways—rainbow windsocks—a sexual sort of lushness to the foliage. Only intermittently does it seem like an actual place of residence and commerce, with functional roads and sensible buildings.
—Dave Eggers, a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
I have to say that a good portion of this description within Egger’s sometimes interesting, egocentric first book feels correct to me. Especially the bit about the light in San Francisco. This is how San Francisco seems to a person who is from harder, uglier cities.
A woman standing in line next to me for casual carpool to San Francisco said to me, “I read that book when I was 26 and loved it. I tried reading it recently and it just wasn’t the same.” I suddenly felt young but wondered if I had read it when I was 26, if I would have liked it just a smidgen better. 26 was a smidgen of time ago.