A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

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9780330456715: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Dave Egger's parents died from cancer within a month of each other when he was 21 and his brother, Christopher, was seven. They left the Chicago suburb where they had grown up and moved to San Francisco. This book tells the story of their life together.

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Review:

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

From the Back Cover:

"For 40 years readers have been waiting around on J. D. Salinger to send down a new manuscript from high atop his reclusive Vermont mountain. Well, the vigil is over and we can forget about hearing from Salinger. He's been replaced by a stunning new writer. His name is Dave Eggers." —Tampa Tribune

"Like any good trip, it's not the destination, but what's around the bend that counts. [And Eggers] takes us on a trip where he throws his hat out the window, rather than into the ring--to a place between autobiography and fiction, a place just off a bumpy road where truth is perhaps most comfortable. Exhilarating! Stunning! Heartbreaking! A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius amazes constantly." —The Globe and Mail

"Eggers unfailingly captures the reader with gorgeous conviction." —Lynn Crosbie, The Toronto Star

"A virtuosic piece of writing, a big, daring, manic-depressive stew of a book that noisily announces the debut of a talented — yes, staggeringly talented — new writer." — Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Scathingly perceptive and hysterically funny.... Eggers reveals a true, and truly broken, heart." —People

"Eggers crafts something universal here, something raw and real and wonderful that transcends any zeitgeist and manages to deal trenchantly with 'big issues' that often prove too daunting for younger writers: mortality, youth, the artifice of writing, the Zen of Frisbee. This is laugh-out-loud funny and utterly unforgettable." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Eggers evokes the terrible beauty of youth like a young Bob Dylan, frothing with furious anger--. A comic and moving witness that transcends and transgresses formal boundaries." —Washington Post

"A brave work, and not a little heartbreaking." —National Post

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Dave Eggers
Editore: Pan MacMillan, United Kingdom (2007)
ISBN 10: 0330456717 ISBN 13: 9780330456715
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Descrizione libro Pan MacMillan, United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Heartbreaking? Certainly. Staggering? Yes, I d say so. And if genius is capturing the universal in a fresh and memorable way, call it that too Anthony Quinn, Sunday Times Is this how all orphans would speak -- I am at once pitiful and monstrous, I know -- if they had Dave Eggers s prodigious linguistic gifts? For he does write wonderfully, and this is an extremely impressive debut John Banville, Irish Times A virtuosic piece of writing, a big, daring, manic-depressive stew of a book that noisily announces the debut of a talented -- yes, staggeringly talented -- new writer -- Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Exhilarating .Profoundly moving, occasionally angry and often hilarious .A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is, finally, a finite book of jest, which is why it succeeds so brilliantly -- New York Times Book Review What is really shocking and exciting is the book s sheer rage. AHWOSG is truly ferocious, like any work of genius. Eggers -- self-reliant, transcendent, expansive -- is Emerson s ideal Young American. [The book] does itself justice: it is a settling of accounts. And it is almost too good to be believed -- London Review of Books A hilarious book .In it, literary gamesmanship and self-consciousness are trained on life s most unendurable experience, used to examine a memory too scorching to stare at, as one views an eclipse by projecting sunlight onto paper through a pinhole -- Time Eggers evokes the terrible beauty of youth like a young Bob Dylan, frothing with furious anger .He takes us close, shows us as much as he can bear .His book is a comic and moving witness that transcends and transgresses formal boundaries -- Washington Post. Codice libro della libreria AA79780330456715

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Descrizione libro Pan MacMillan, United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Heartbreaking? Certainly. Staggering? Yes, I d say so. And if genius is capturing the universal in a fresh and memorable way, call it that too Anthony Quinn, Sunday Times Is this how all orphans would speak -- I am at once pitiful and monstrous, I know -- if they had Dave Eggers s prodigious linguistic gifts? For he does write wonderfully, and this is an extremely impressive debut John Banville, Irish Times A virtuosic piece of writing, a big, daring, manic-depressive stew of a book that noisily announces the debut of a talented -- yes, staggeringly talented -- new writer -- Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Exhilarating .Profoundly moving, occasionally angry and often hilarious .A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is, finally, a finite book of jest, which is why it succeeds so brilliantly -- New York Times Book Review What is really shocking and exciting is the book s sheer rage. AHWOSG is truly ferocious, like any work of genius. Eggers -- self-reliant, transcendent, expansive -- is Emerson s ideal Young American. [The book] does itself justice: it is a settling of accounts. And it is almost too good to be believed -- London Review of Books A hilarious book .In it, literary gamesmanship and self-consciousness are trained on life s most unendurable experience, used to examine a memory too scorching to stare at, as one views an eclipse by projecting sunlight onto paper through a pinhole -- Time Eggers evokes the terrible beauty of youth like a young Bob Dylan, frothing with furious anger .He takes us close, shows us as much as he can bear .His book is a comic and moving witness that transcends and transgresses formal boundaries -- Washington Post. Codice libro della libreria AA79780330456715

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Descrizione libro Picador 2007-09-21, 2007. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria NU-BER-00056901

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Descrizione libro Picador, 2007. Condizione libro: New. 2007. Paperback. The superb, bestselling story of David Eggers's extraordinary life with his brother Num Pages: 496 pages. BIC Classification: 1KBBNC; 1KBBWF; BG. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 196 x 132 x 34. Weight in Grams: 348. . . . . . . Codice libro della libreria V9780330456715

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Descrizione libro Picador, Condizione libro: New. 2007. Paperback. The superb, bestselling story of David Eggers's extraordinary life with his brother Num Pages: 496 pages. BIC Classification: 1KBBNC; 1KBBWF; BG. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 196 x 132 x 34. Weight in Grams: 348. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Codice libro della libreria V9780330456715

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Descrizione libro Macmillan 2007-09-21, London, 2007. paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria 9780330456715

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Descrizione libro Picador, 2007. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Codice libro della libreria mon0000226287

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