Book Review: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Three weeks ago I attended my first meeting in a new book club. I nixed the Chick Lit group I joined because it was…well, too trivial. In place, I joined another group I found on Meetup, Book and Girlfriends (yeah, I don’t know why every book club I join has a stupid name, but whatever). For “”Books and Girlfriends”” we read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. We met at Argos Tea (which is one of my FAV tea spots in the city by the way) and there were about eight of us total, which ended up being the perfect amount in my opinion because we all had a chance to talk and contribute to the conversation without there being any long, awkward pauses. This seemed to help me a lot. I noticed an effect after about 2 weeks of use.

After checking out a book club I decide whether or not I want to become a regular “”member”” after

1. seeing who comes to the meetings and whether I enjoy myself/being in their company/they provide stimulating conversation

and

2. I’m interested in reading the book that will be discussed

Obviously the latter is a big determining factor if I even want to go to one meeting because I usually won’t spend my time reading a book unless I find it interesting or valuable for me to read in some way.

Now, to my opinion of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It was okay. I respect the fact that Eggers is so imaginative and his style of writing is unique, but in my opinion, he seems too much of a con artist which takes away from the authenticity of his story. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is about Mr. and Mrs. Eggers both passing away, leaving their young twenty-some year old son (Dave) to take care of the youngest

pre-teen Egger son (Toph). Dave Eggers definitely plays up the fact that he is Toph’s primary caretaker and he is annoying with constantly trying to “”subtlety”” play the “”take pity on me”” card. He frequently points to all of the sacrifices he makes to raise Toph. Meanwhile, after basically saying that his older brother and sister helped minimally with raising Toph,

he doesn’t address that he potentially could have had more help from one of his relatives from Chicago…if he didn’t uproot Toph and move from Chicago to San Francisco after his parents died. I understand that things would be very difficult trying to raise a young boy when you yourself are not a stable adult, but at the same time, Dave did not do much to make his situation any easier.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is not a work of genius. Dave Eggers thinks very highly of himself. Everything from his story telling and informing the reader that certain parts of the story are made up, in addition to the red curtain on the cover of the book pointing to the fact that it’s all an act, takes away from the credibility of the story. Am I glad I read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? Yes. Do I feel moved by it or do I feel like I will ever re-read it? No. Take from that what you will. What I do enjoy about the book is the first person narrative and feeling like you’re inside Dave’s mind through this whole life-changing experience. There are many things you can relate to and to that, certain parts of his story are memorable. Unfortunately, you never know if he is just playing with the reader and trying to shape the perception of him in a more positive, heroic-esque light or if he’s staying true to his/his family’s story.
]]>