Because previous encounters with journalists have left Eggers not only scarred but also skeptical (exchanges with interviewers who have irked him can be followed on mcsweeneys.com), he now insists on a question-and-answer format for all interviews. Here's the transcript from the Pitch's. Q: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius tells a true story, but part of that truth is a vivid fantasy life, one that includes men in trench coats behind elevator doors and your brother being slain by the babysitter. Do you think that fantasizing about bad things fulfills some need?
A: For a long time my naive belief was that everyone had those kinds of fantasies, all the time. But I've been asking people, normal people, and it turns out a fairly small percentage has recurring and very vivid images of possible or probable disaster. But I guess I like them myself; I'm used to them at least. Some people think about food; I picture calamity.
Q: Both in your book and on the McSweeney's Web site, you express a belief that it is worthwhile to say yes to possibilities and that saying no too much is an undesirable way to live. How do you feel about Nancy Reagan and her "Just say no" slogan? How do you think Nancy Reagan would feel about you?
A: I know Nancy very well, and she's a beautiful woman and a tough old bird. She still dresses with flair, and her manners are impeccable. To answer your question, though: I think she likes me a lot, though Ron and I don't get along much at all. She tried out her slogan on me way back when, before she launched the campaign, and I told her I didn't think much of it. But she never listens to me; I told her to marry Gregory Peck.
Q: Have you been to Kansas City before?
A: I must have passed through at some point. Growing up, we drove around a lot on school breaks. But I was probably very young and remember nothing. All I can say is this: It better be good.
Q: Do you fantasize about it? Could you outline one such Kansas City fantasy?
A: Well, the first thing I want to see is the waterfront. Then the arch. I've heard great things about the arch.
Q: You'll reportedly sign things other than your book while on your booksigning tour. Can you think of anything you would outright refuse to sign?
A: I love signing fruit, but I've stopped signing bread.