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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
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About the Author

Dave Eggers is the founder of McSweeney's, a quarterly journal and website (www.mcsweeneys.net), and his books include You Shall Know Our Velocity, How We Are Hungry, Short Short Stories, and What is the What. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and Ocean Navigator. He is the recipient of the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a 2001 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Northern California.

Reviews

It's a good guess that Jedediah PurdyÄthe author of For Common Things and righteous agitator against ironyÄwould hate Eggers and his late satirical magazine, Might, right along with this masterly memoir. That is a shame because, despite Eggers's inability to take anything seriously on its surface, this meandering story rests on a foundation of sincerity that is part of Purdy's rallying cry. Amid countless digressions, Eggers relates two tales: his mostly successful, if unconventional attempt at raising his much younger brother following their parents' deaths and his years founding and then witnessing the slow demise of Might. Throughout, Eggers eschews any contrivance. The expected tales of emotional longing, political alienation, and creative struggle by a smart twentysomething are replaced by a stream of hilarious, how-it-happened anecdotes; often inane, how-we-really-talk dialog; and quick jabs at some of our society's bizarre conventions. In the end one is left with a surprisingly moving tale of family bonding and resilience as well as the nagging suspicion that maybe he made the whole thing up. In any case, as compared with the spate of recent reminiscences by earnest youngsters, Eggers delivers a worthwhile story told in perfect pitch to the material. Highly recommended for public and undergraduate libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/99.]ÄEric Bryant, "Library Journal" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"This is a beautifully ragged, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly unforgettable book."
" This is a beautifully ragged, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly unforgettable book."

Literary self-consciousness and technical invention mix unexpectedly in this engaging memoir by Eggers, editor of the literary magazine McSweeney's and the creator of a satiric 'zine called Might, who subverts the conventions of the memoir by questioning his memory, motivations and interpretations so thoroughly that the form itself becomes comic. Despite the layers of ironic hesitation, the reader soon discerns that the emotions informing the book are raw and, more importantly, authentic. After presenting a self-effacing set of "Rules and Suggestions for the Enjoyment of this Book" ("Actually, you might want to skip much of the middle, namely pages 209-301") and an extended, hilarious set of acknowledgments (which include an itemized account of his gross and net book advance), Eggers describes his parents' horrific deaths from cancer within a few weeks of each other during his senior year of college, and his decision to move with his eight year-old brother, Toph, from the suburbs of Chicago to Berkeley, near where his sister, Beth, lives. In California, he manages to care for Toph, work at various jobs, found Might, and even take a star turn on MTV's The Real World. While his is an amazing story, Eggers, now 29, mainly focuses on the ethics of the memoir and of his behavior--his desire to be loved because he is an orphan and admired for caring for his brother versus his fear that he is attempting to profit from his terrible experiences and that he is only sharing his pain in an attempt to dilute it. 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. Agent, Elyse Cheney, Sanford Greenberger Assoc.; 7-city author tour. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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