Dave Eggers was born in Boston in 1970, raised in Illinois and now lives in San Francisco with his wife, the novelist Vendela Vida, and their two children. He is the author of many books for adults and children, among them The Circle, What Is the What, The Every and The Eyes and the Impossible. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, a nonprofit, independent publishing company, and two nonprofit organisations – 826 Valencia and ScholarMatch – aimed at giving low-income young people the ability to write and to access higher education, debt-free. His latest picture book, Soren’s Seventh Song, about a young humpback whale, is out in the UK this month (Cameron Kids).

1. Exhibition

Kehinde Wiley, An Archaeology of Silence, de Young Museum, San Francisco

‘Sumptuous, reverberating colour masking layers of pain’: one of Kehinde Wiley’s paintings from his show An Archaeology of Silence. Photograph: Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers/Getty Images

This show is travelling America, so see it whenever or wherever you can. When Wiley’s paintings and sculptures were recently at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, they surpassed anything in its collection. This is no knock on the de Young; it’s simply a statement of Wiley’s greatness. To stand in a room with one of Wiley’s oversized paintings – his figures here are about 14ft, head to toe – is to be wholly consumed by sumptuous, reverberating colour masking layers of pain. The show is presented with dramatic lighting, where the viewers are in the dark, the paintings brilliantly illuminated; it makes their power that much more hypnotic, and Wiley’s technique that much more radical in its old master obsessiveness (try to find a brushstroke!). Wiley is our most important, most captivating living painter, and this exhibit makes the point hard to refute.

2. Activity

Whale watching

‘It shames us if we don’t go see them’: a whale in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Photograph: DJP/Stockimo/Alamy

If you happen to be near some whales, I recommend you go see them. I recently went on a whale-watching trip out just west of the San Francisco Bay, and we saw – in the space of the first hour – about a dozen gray whales and humpbacks, all of them breaching and spraying and frolicking, seeming wholly intent on being noticed and admired. That they’re so close, and so plentiful, shames us if we don’t go see them. (If you don’t live near whales, or an ocean, or you don’t like oceans or cetaceans, please disregard the preceding message.)

3. Book

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore

‘Secretly great’: author Lorrie Moore. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

The majority of this secretly great novel, maybe Moore’s best, is about two lovers, one of them dead, on a road trip. Who needs more enticement than that?

4. TV

I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson (Netflix)

‘Far past any boundary of sanity’: I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson. Photograph: Terence Patrick/Netflix

At this point I’ve seen every episode [of this sketch show] three times, which points either to the show’s many intricate layers, or some repetitive-obsessive problem I need to medicate. Robinson specialises in characters who come up with deeply terrible ideas, like giving Al Capone-style hats and fake machine guns to attendees of a baby shower, and then fighting for these ideas far past any boundary of sanity. Robinson gives voice to America’s most uncompromising idiots, which I guess is something we needed?

5. Exercise


San Francisco: ‘move your legs, save a fortune’. Photograph: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

My wife and I were recently asked to meet some visiting friends at a hotel bar. We split one glass of wine and got the bill, which was $49. Yes, San Francisco is stupid expensive, but still, this caused a rupture in the fabric of the universe. From now on, all social meetings, for me at least, will be walks. Move your legs, see the world, save a fortune.

6. Album

Feist: Multitudes

‘She works on canvases large and small’: Leslie Feist. Photograph: Medios y Media/Getty Images

While (not whilst) I’ve been writing these recommendations, I’ve been listening to Feist’s newish album, so it should close out this list. I always run to her music as a parched man would rush to a waterfall, but this album surpasses all expectations. She works on canvases large and small here, from whispers to walls of sound. When we think of indispensable Canadians – and who doesn’t? – we must first think of Feist.


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