EXTREMEly suspicious drinking story
October 23, 2006 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Did Dave Eggers write a [fabricated] feature story on extreme mountain climbing under a pseudonym for Details magazine 7-8 years ago?

Circa 1998 (during an extremely lad-mag phase) I read a feature article in Details that turned my bullshit detector up to 11. A few years later, I read Dave Eggers' book A Heartbreaking Work of... where he discusses "selling out" and getting paid $$$$ to write fluff for Details. Ever since then, I've wondered if Eggers wrote that unbelievable article.

Premise: a NY-based freelance writer is given a wad of money and told to book himself on an "extreme" mountain-climbing guided tour (adventure tours were a hot trend at the time) and write about it for Details.

I remember the following claims from his thrilling tale of adventure, for those who care:

-- After buying all his expensive gear, he ran out of money and had to buy his boots at KMart. They worked fine.

-- He was told to spend several weeks "training" on a treadmill with his backpack, to condition himself for 2 weeks of grueling climbs. But he was too busy partying in NY with his friends, getting really drunk and high every night, to bother with training at all.

-- Most of the people on his tour (in South America) were serious amateur climbers who took these trips a couple times a year. The only person who wasn't was a middle-aged former hippie, travelling by herself, who'd saved up her money and left her teenage kid behind while she took this aweome trip. Hippie Mom became Freelance Writer's only friend on the adventure, and they got along like gangbusters.

-- Their first night in South America, the whole group was treated to one of those big "local culture" dinners that tour companies arrange. After dinner, all the serious climbers knocked off early, while Freelance Writer and Hippie Mom sat around with the locals smoking some powerful ceremonial hallucinogens.

-- Freelance Writer and Hippie Mom successfully ascend their first peak despite extreme hangovers from the night before.

-- For the next 2 weeks, Freelance Writer and Hippie Mom consume copious quantities of alcohol, marijuana and other recreational substances at night, then get up and climb tremendously tall mountains in extremely cold temperatures the next day. All of the other Serious Climbers sit out at least one of the peaks on the tour due to injury or poor climbing conditions; Freelance Writer and Hippie Mom are the only ones who climb every peak with the guides, because they'll never have the chance to do this stuff again.

-- Freelance Writer concludes that extreme mountain climbing is cool, provided you carry enough party supplies with you to make it fun. But training is for suckers: the best training is smoke, drink and party as much as possible beforehand.

I'd love to know who wrote this, and if there's any reason to believe that he (or she) ever left NY to research it. The Dave Eggers angle is just a theory, since it could have been concocted by any number of other writers.
posted by junkbox to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
lexis nexis could probably help you out here but I left my login at home. have someone with the required login search their database for his name.

but do you really care whether it was fact or fiction?
posted by krautland at 12:20 PM on October 23, 2006

It seems like he cares who wrote it.
posted by Evstar at 12:30 PM on October 23, 2006

Response by poster: As far as I know, Eggers never published anything in Details under his real name. I'd love to know the name of the author of the mountain climbing article, and how many other articles are attributed in Lexis-Nexis to that author. That should provide some clues as to whether the author's name is legit or just a pseudonym.

And on a related note, I'd be curious to see a list of articles Eggers wrote for Details, if anyone knows which name(s) he used. My Google-fu has turned up nothing on that yet.
posted by junkbox at 12:56 PM on October 23, 2006

Best answer: I read this sto0ry, but by no means in Details. I think it was in the special McSweeney's pulp issue edited by Michael Chabon. I recall it as by Eggers as well. You don't mention that the only cool person is German, as well as a middle-aged female "hippie."

My recollection of the central themes in the tale are very much NOT that They Who Party Climb Best, but that They Who Seek The Great Way By Signing Up With Adventure Tourist Packages Are Fools.

Rhetorically, I buy the argument.
posted by mwhybark at 6:28 PM on October 23, 2006

Best answer: The story "Up the Mountain, Coming Down Slowly" (pp. 141-199) in Egger's wonderful collection of short stories, How We Are Hungry sounds very close to this, except the protagonist is female, and not a freelance writer, and likes drinking, but isn't a complete alcoholic.

Nonetheless, I could definitely buy that "Up the Mountain, Coming Down Slowly" was adapted from the one you're talking about.
posted by ewiar at 6:40 PM on October 23, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you, mwhybark and ewiar!
posted by junkbox at 7:55 AM on October 24, 2006

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