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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Author: Dave Eggers
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 simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.
ISBN-13: 9780375725784
ISBN-10: 0375725784
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 496
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 689

3.4 stars, based on 689 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
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Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 23
The book as a whole is much better than some of the parts. Dave Eggers has written a raw, emotional memoir of the years immediately following the death of both parents. He becomes the guardian of a younger brother and is also trying to begin his own career as a writer. Eggers is witty, sarcastic, pretenious and possibly genius, but this book was not easy for me to read. There were parts that I felt I would never get through and it wasn't until I was finished that I really appreciated what Eggers had accomplished. Several times in telling his story, Eggers goes off on narrative tangents that don't really move the story. These border on stream of conscienciousness, but are just hard to follow, as are some sections of dialogue.

So why does this book have such high praise? Eggers is funny and honest. This memoir succeeds in giving an clear picture of one young adult's life and thoughts as he strives to deal with his grief, become a parent to his much younger brother and carve out a successful career as writer and publisher. Eggers was idealistic enough to think he could do just that.

If you pick up this book make it through the preface and first chapter (it may not be easy) go ahead and finish. i think you will be glad you did.
reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 113 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
Loved this book from the first page. Laughed out loud at times. Young man (23) trying to care for his younger brother (9) and atone for family tragedies. It journals the screwups, the successes and how he learns along the way. I loved it, and realized this is all a learning process for him and did not take it all too seriously.
reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 297 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
Reading the back cover is like reading the label of a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap. If that appeals, cross it with trying to read Joyce's Ulysses. Still interested (even if only because you've been told that it's groundbreaking and important but no one makes it through)? Mix in a bit of David Sedaris and Augustin Burroughs (think current versions of The Hotel New Hampshire or things just as disturbing and vaguely autobiographical) and take as necessary. Don't forget, the Washington Post used the word "frothing" in their review. How often does that happen?
reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
A pulitzer prize finalist. This book was like watching a train wreck in slow motion! It was moving, real, sad and hilarious. I couldn't stop reading it and I should probably read it again!
reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
Very diffrent, realistic look at the world of 20-somethings, out of college, without the traditional moorings of family. The main character takes custody of his pre-teen brother after the deaths of both parents and tries to give both their lives some normalcy. While doing this, he tries vainly to accomplish something (anything) that could be called noteworthy or meaningful.
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reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 50 more book reviews
I don't know - I just did not get it. Read about halfway through and put it down. Maybe I'll try again some day to see what it is I am missing.
reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 58 more book reviews
This is a hard book to get through. Not because of the content, but because of the lack of content. A 23 year old taking care of his 9 year old brother after the death of their parents could be a fascinating trajectory, however Eggers drags out all of his internal conflict to the point that you lose a bit of empathy for him.

Just because this is how I felt as a WHOLE, I must say that there are sections of his autobiography that is at times hysterical, and at times tear-inducing. There are some wonderful sections of this book, which almost makes it more frusterating that the other parts drag on for so long. Because of how high it's professional praise has been, I had to read it, and it is worth a go, but I don't know that anyone should have their expectations sky-high like I did.
reviewed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on + 82 more book reviews
Interesting book. Written from main character's stream of consciousness.


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