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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius » User review

Lives Up To Its Cheeky Name

  • Jun 17, 2010

The first thing you should know: there is a drawing of a stapler in the prologue of this book. For no reason. A non sequitor beyond all non sequitors. And yet it is the apotheosis of why this book is so amazing.

Eggers' memoir, published in 2000, is a genre unto itself - sprawling, self-conscious, postmodern prose that pulls no punches. The genesis for the project was Eggers' parents dying within 32 days of one another, both of cancer, and his being granted full custody of his younger brother, Toph. A tragic story, for certain, but Eggers shows us the darker side of the experience beyond the typical orphan tale -- how he sleeps around a lot; convinces himself he will die young, most likely of AIDS; dreams of becoming a Real World cast member and have the whole country feeling sorry for him; relishes the thought that somehow he was Chosen, singled out for an extraordinary life because of the terrible thing that happened to him.

The latter in particular is a thought that many people have, but few would say, and in that way I find Eggers' writing extraordinarily brave. But sometimes (and I feel this way about McSweeney's, too, his literary mag) Eggers is a little too cute, too clever, too self-consciously writing a really good book. Where is the rawness, the grit, the devastation? 

That being said, one cannot help but become enchanted by the relationship developed between the author and his little brother -- it is beyond endearing. And kudos must be given because, quite frankly, this book blew the roof off the memoir genre; it was like nothing ever published before. Moreover, death - a subject that Americans in particular are loathe to examine - is one of if not the primary focus of the book, and it is examined unflinchingly. So you can't help but read it and have that transcendental experience that all we readers crave: that opportunity to read a passage and think to yourself, "really? I thought I was the only one." 



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review by . July 05, 2010
   I rarely have such violent reactions to books, but this book was a painful read.  After finishing this book, I felt as though I had been sitting in the same place, drooling on myself, while stuffing myself with high fructose corn syrup, for a month straight—without the benefits of sugar intake or the relaxation of repose.    I realize that there are many layers of irony to the book, and it’s not without consideration that I write such a horrible review.  …
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
This is a glimpse into the life of an unsatisfied 20-something trying to get his feet on the ground. The humor is dry and unsual but still relatable.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
As someone who was orphaned at sixteen, I can tell you this book describes the loss of a parent exactly how it is.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
The most delightful thing about this book is the way it is written. At every page, the author surprises you by saying things you would have never thought of.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
my favorite piece of modern literature! oh, inspiration!
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
I loved the first half of this.
review by . June 12, 2010
A Heartbreaking Work celebrates generation x postmodernism, in that it re-imagines the way we read a story. Style has become an investment for many authors, and Eggers expertly adds his own flavor of artisan to this novel. It was inspired after his mother and father died within a month of each other from cancer and he was left to bring along his brother Christopher (Toph) while experiencing the misadventures of his twenties. It will show you a new way to explore literary works, and it will do so …
review by . December 19, 2008
Dave Eggers has a very unique writing style and it seems you either love or hate it. In this, his first offering, he relates the trials and triumphs of his life with his younger brother, whom he took custody of when his parents died within weeks of each other. Eggers is really a child himself and makes a million mistakes. He also sounds a bit full of himself, at times, and bemoans his situation quite a bit. I can totally understand why some people simply get sick of him after a couple of chapters.    …
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Sally Franson ()
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Dave Eggers' loud, crashing, attention-receiving 2000 debut.
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Author: Dave Eggers
Genre: Memoir / Novel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: 2000
ISBN: 0-330-48455-9
Format: Print
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