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

by Dave Eggers

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12,374180201 (3.67)191
Member:lyzrdpye
Title:A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Authors:Dave Eggers
Info:Vintage (2001), Edition: First Paperback Edition, Paperback, 485 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**
Tags:audiobook

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

20th century (40) 21st century (39) American (139) American literature (57) autobiography (278) biography (218) brothers (79) California (52) cancer (68) contemporary (50) Dave Eggers (33) death (139) eggers (38) family (177) fiction (776) humor (198) literature (74) McSweeney's (43) memoir (1,020) non-fiction (493) novel (117) orphans (65) own (74) postmodern (55) read (202) San Francisco (108) siblings (36) to-read (163) unread (114) USA (41)
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» See also 191 mentions

English (177)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (181)
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
There were so many negative comments about this book that I started to second guess my initial impression but I am determined to stick with my original view that this was a wonderful work. The language is clever, the situation incredibly sad and difficult and the characters believable in their strengths and flaws. It dragged a little bit at times but I think I was just impatient to find out what really happened next rather than analysing so much what was happening now. The author is extremely deliberate and self aware of what he is doing and of the effect he expects to have - otherwise it would be horribly pretentious. This is what proves that it, sort of, really is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
  rosiezbanks | Jul 1, 2014 |
My least favourite so far of Eggers' books but I still enjoyed it, particularly its capturing of San Francisco youthful naivety, undercut by grief and the fallout of parental deaths from cancer. The tone was at times a bit cloying but deliberately so, so overall effective. ( )
  Kirstie_Innes-Will | Apr 18, 2014 |
Good book but there was something wrong with it. At the beginning he says to stop reading at a certain page and he was right. Very good first attempt at a book but needs to be condensed a bit. I did finish it but it was a stretch. ( )
  Noonecanstop | Mar 2, 2014 |
This memoir tells of the author's family. His parents died in 1991 and 1992 and the author took his 8-year-old brother with him to San Francisco, where they lived near the author's sister. The author was involved with Might magazine and spent a lot of tome doing stupid things, as well as caring for his brother, The work is seriously disfigured by totally excessive use of obscene and blasphemous language which adds nothing to the account, but makes the reading of the book repeatedly disgusting. I was very glad to get to the last page. Why did I read it? Amazon's recent list of "100 books one should read in a lifetime" includes the book and my reading this book brings to 56 the number of books on that list I have read. ( )
  Schmerguls | Feb 17, 2014 |
Probably the worst book I've ever read and made it all the way through. I just kept thinking 'something' has to happen that will make this story rate the press acclaim it received; nothing happened and thankfully it finally ended. ( )
  pking36330 | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 177 (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
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dave Eggersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pardoen, IrvingTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
First of all: I am tired. I am true of heart! And also: You are tired. You are true of heart!
Dedication
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.
First words
Through the small tall bathroom window the December yard is gray and scratchy, the trees calligraphic.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:31 -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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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