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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by…

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Dave Eggers

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12,752185185 (3.66)200
Title:A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Authors:Dave Eggers
Info:Vintage (2001), Edition: First Paperback Edition, Paperback, 485 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (2000)


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English (182)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (186)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
From its ironically extravagant title to its tongue-in-cheek modifications to the copyright page, this is without doubt a quirky book. Picking it up and leafing through the lengthy preambles it would be easy to be put off - tiny script, rambling explanations of events we have yet to encounter, suggestions that the reader skip this section or that. But fast forward to the story itself, and it quickly settled my nerves by doing what this author does best - telling a good story. It is the true account of the untimely death of the author's parents, leaving him and his siblings to bring up his much younger brother. It also focuses on the setting up of a painfully cool magazine in San Francisco.

Mostly it is good - occasionally it is excellent, occasionally a bit long winded and in places surreal. There were sections I wished I had taken the early advice and skipped - particularly when it came to the magazine - and yet had I done so I would have missed some really good bits (the fake celebrity death was a particular highlight). But if you boil it right down and ignore all the gimmicky bits, what remains is a good story about the lousy things that can happen in family life and how you cope with them. ( )
  jayne_charles | Nov 30, 2015 |
Started out great. Interesting style, dark, paranoid and disturbing at times, funny and thought provoking at other times. Unfortunately, the book just kept on going. And going. The story lost all interest and became a bit "out there", the characters got annoying, the rants became more and more over the top and clearly, the author was far too in love with himself, his book, the story, etc. It started to alternate between whiny, overly self-referential and just plain dull. ( )
  brikis98 | Nov 11, 2015 |
I can't fairly give this a one star rating because I didnt finish the book. I found some imagery to be too gross leaving me unable to continue. ( )
  Iceform | May 31, 2015 |
The title of this memoir with fictionalized parts can seem misleading until you get to know the narrator who is given to hyperbole. This is actually a very entertaining listen which surprised me. ( )
1 vote bookwyrmm | Nov 12, 2014 |
It took me a while to realize this was a memoir or creative non-fiction, and not fiction. It was highly entertaining, funny, tragic, and a little ADD. There is not much of a plot, but is just a story of Dave Eggers after his parents pass away. He balances all the moments that would be more heart-wrenching with comedy. For the most part the book is largely funny. The ending starts to become intense and you start to feel his suffering a bit more. He likes to rant a lot about his thoughts and worries, which to me seem more honest and realistic as they are usually inane, stupid, overly dramatic, or sexual. I can see reading this book can at times seems boring or pointless, but I listened to the audiobook narrated by Dion Graham, and it was absolutely amazing. He made everything seem so real. His voice acting was great, he made the rants more funny, and he really expressed emotion that Dave Eggers may have be trying to portray. ( )
1 vote renbedell | Sep 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
''A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius'' is a book of finite jest, which is why it succeeds so brilliantly. Eggers's most powerful prose is often his most straightforward, relying on old-fashioned truth telling for its punch.
Dave Eggers's new book, ''A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,'' is part autobiography, part postmodern collage, a novelistic ''memoir-y kind of thing'' that tells the sad, awful, tragic story of how the author's mother and father died within weeks of each other and how he became a surrogate parent to his 8-year-old brother, and tells it with such style and hyperventilated, self-conscious energy, such coy, Lettermanesque shtick and such genuine, heartfelt emotion, that the story is at once funny, tender, annoying and, yes, heartbreaking -- an epic, in the end, not of woe, though there's plenty of that too, but an epic about family and how families fracture and fragment and somehow, through all the tumult and upset, manage to endure.
Though the book is marred by its ending--an unsuccessful parody of teenage rage against the cruel world--it will still delight admirers of structural experimentation and Gen-Xers alike.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly
Eggers delivers a worthwhile story told in perfect pitch to the material.
added by Shortride | editLibrary Journal, Eric Bryant
Eggers' seemingly flippant, but piercingly observant style, allows hilarity to lead the way in a very personal and revealing recounting of the loss of his parents.
added by Shortride | editBooklist, Grace Fill

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Dave Eggersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pardoen, IrvingTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First of all: I am tired. I am true of heart! And also: You are tired. You are true of heart!
Change and contentment via together-rising boats; The reckless encouragement of blue sky research; A mountain for every little person; A flood for New York.
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Through the small tall bathroom window the December yard is gray and scratchy, the trees calligraphic.
We feel that to reveal embarrassing or private things, we have given someone something, that, like a primitive person fearing that a photograph will steal his soul, we identify our secrets, our past and their blotches, with our identity, that revealing habits or losses or deeds somehow makes one less of oneself.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375725784, Paperback)

Dave Eggers is a terrifically talented writer; don't hold his cleverness against him. What to make of a book called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: Based on a True Story? For starters, there's a good bit of staggering genius before you even get to the true story, including a preface, a list of "Rules and Suggestions for Enjoyment of This Book," and a 20-page acknowledgements section complete with special mail-in offer, flow chart of the book's themes, and a lovely pen-and-ink drawing of a stapler (helpfully labeled "Here is a drawing of a stapler:").

But on to the true story. At the age of 22, Eggers became both an orphan and a "single mother" when his parents died within five months of one another of unrelated cancers. In the ensuing sibling division of labor, Dave is appointed unofficial guardian of his 8-year-old brother, Christopher. The two live together in semi-squalor, decaying food and sports equipment scattered about, while Eggers worries obsessively about child-welfare authorities, molesting babysitters, and his own health. His child-rearing strategy swings between making his brother's upbringing manically fun and performing bizarre developmental experiments on him. (Case in point: his idea of suitable bedtime reading is John Hersey's Hiroshima.)

The book is also, perhaps less successfully, about being young and hip and out to conquer the world (in an ironic, media-savvy, Gen-X way, naturally). In the early '90s, Eggers was one of the founders of the very funny Might Magazine, and he spends a fair amount of time here on Might, the hipster culture of San Francisco's South Park, and his own efforts to get on to MTV's Real World. This sort of thing doesn't age very well--but then, Eggers knows that. There's no criticism you can come up with that he hasn't put into A.H.W.O.S.G. already. "The book thereafter is kind of uneven," he tells us regarding the contents after page 109, and while that's true, it's still uneven in a way that is funny and heartfelt and interesting.

All this self-consciousness could have become unbearably arch. It's a testament to Eggers's skill as a writer--and to the heartbreaking particulars of his story--that it doesn't. Currently the editor of the footnote-and-marginalia-intensive journal McSweeney's (the last issue featured an entire story by David Foster Wallace printed tinily on its spine), Eggers comes from the most media-saturated generation in history--so much so that he can't feel an emotion without the sense that it's already been felt for him. What may seem like postmodern noodling is really just Eggers writing about pain in the only honest way available to him. Oddly enough, the effect is one of complete sincerity, and--especially in its concluding pages--this memoir as metafiction is affecting beyond all rational explanation. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:47 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simltaneously hilarious and wildily inventive as well as a deeply hearfelt story of the love that holds a family together.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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