A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

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9780330484558: 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. 'Dave Eggers has written a superb memoir... The work soars because it is, simply and tremendously, an honest and moving account of one man's life. In the process, he reminds me that while the language and style of literature are always changing, it is forever about coming to terms with the timeless conflicts of the human heart...Like all authors, he uses his life and imagination to make sense of the world. Like the very best writers, he does not manufacture cheap answers.' The News & Observer 'The story is at once funny, tender, annoying and, yes, heartbreaking - an epic about family and how families fracture and fragment and somehow, through all the tumult and upset, manage to endure . . . 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 'Eggers is an original new voice, the real thing. When you read his extraordinary memoir you don't laugh, then cry, then laugh again; you somehow experience these emotions all at once - and powerfully' David Remnick 'The force and energy of this book could power a train' David Sedaris

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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
Verlag: Picador (2001)
ISBN 10: 0330484559 ISBN 13: 9780330484558
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BookLovers of Bath
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Buchbeschreibung Picador, 2001. Paperback. Buchzustand: Near Fine. At the age of 22, Dave 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 labour, Dave is appointed unofficial guardian of his eight-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 fun and performing bizarre developmental experiments on him. (Case in point: his idea of suitable bedtime reading is John Hersey's Hiroshima.) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is also, perhaps less successfully, about being young and hip and out to conquer the world (in an ironic, media-savvy, Generation-X way, naturally). In the early 1990s, 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. 400pp. For more photos or information, use the «Ask Bookseller» button and I'll be pleased to help. The book is in stock and ships from the rustic nirvana of Peasedown St. John, near Bath, England from a long-established bookseller - guaranteed by my reputation and the UK Distance Selling Act. Remember! BUYING THIS BOOK means my Jack Russells get their supper! Condition :: Artikel-Nr. 128807

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Eggers, Dave
Verlag: Picador, London (2000)
ISBN 10: 0330484559 ISBN 13: 9780330484558
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Buchbeschreibung Picador, London, 2000. Original-Broschur. Buchzustand: Gut. Englische Erstausgabe. 437 + 48 Seiten, auf englisch, auf Titel mit Widmung signiert von dem amerikanischen Schriftsteller und Drehbuchautor Dave Eggers (*1971) . leichte Gebrauchsspuren, etwas bestossen. signed by author. Size: 8°. Vom Autor signiert. Buch. Artikel-Nr. 009273

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