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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Dave Eggers story of his parents battles with cancer and his efforts to keep his family together during and after their deaths was truly heartbreaking and inspirational. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Yano Tine
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers, is just that: genius. The thrilling, inspiring, humorous and tragic story follows the main character throughout his... Read morePublished 1 month ago by molly
Amazing first 100 pages. Probably some of the finest writing in those first hundred pages of any author I've ever read. If there was a six star button for that, he would get it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Donald Jans author of Freaks I've Met
The author claims this writing is pointless and I agree. I was entertained by the narrative style, however, I became tired of the constant mania.Published 1 month ago by Sue Mackay
Dreadful book! In rambled and consequentially on and on. I have to skim it to finish it but clearly do not recommend it to anybody!Published 2 months ago by Stuart Ross