Is it Eggers’ Prerogative to Change His Mind?

By Carmen Comment

The 10th anniversary edition of David Foster Wallace‘s doorstop novel INFINITE JEST features an introduction from McSweeeney‘s guru Dave Eggers. But when Traver Kauffman, proprietor of the litblog The Rake’s Progress, did some digging, he found Eggers’ original review of the novel – and discovered his opinion had changed drastically in 10 years.

Not surprisingly, many greeted the apparent flip-flop with some confusion and defense of Eggers. “I’ve never understood why people were so eager to take him down; Eggers is the most charitable person I’ve ever met,” said Stephen Elliott. And while Kauffman agrees that “it’s OK to change your mind, I think we can all agree, but isn’t it important to own up to it?” Because, he continues, “when you’ve set yourself up as a literary arbiter, you’re held to a higher standard: major changes in your critical stance demand a mention–even a passing one, lest you risk the appearance of intellectual dishonesty.”

So now Kauffman is going to put his money where his mouth is, offering a blank check to Eggers to explain his flip-flop. The money started at $49, then Matthew Tiffany, who originally questioned the flip-flop, then matched the sum, and now Kauffman has raised the stakes to $109. And Ed Champion has pledged to interview Eggers for his Bat Segundo show and ask about the flip-flop. Criticism aside, Kauffman points out, it’s all for a good charitable cause