‘Heartbreaking? Certainly. Staggering? Yes, I’d say so. And if genius is capturing the universal in a fresh and memorable way, call it that too’ Anthony Quinn, Sunday Times
‘Is this how all orphans would speak – “I am at once pitiful and monstrous, I know” – if they had Dave Eggers’s prodigious linguistic gifts? For he does write wonderfully, and this is an extremely impressive debut’ John Banville, Irish Times
‘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
‘Exhilarating . . . Profoundly moving, occasionally angry and often hilarious . . . A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is, finally, a finite book of jest, which is why it succeeds so brilliantly’ – New York Times Book Review
‘What is really shocking and exciting is the book’s sheer rage. AHWOSG is truly ferocious, like any work of genius. Eggers – self-reliant, transcendent, expansive – is Emerson’s ideal Young American. [The book] does itself justice: it is a settling of accounts. And it is almost too good to be believed’ – London Review of Books
‘A hilarious book . . . In it, literary gamesmanship and self-consciousness are trained on life’s most unendurable experience, used to examine a memory too scorching to stare at, as one views an eclipse by projecting sunlight onto paper through a pinhole’ – Time
‘Eggers evokes the terrible beauty of youth like a young Bob Dylan, frothing with furious anger . . . He takes us close, shows us as much as he can bear . . . His book is a comic and moving witness that transcends and transgresses formal boundaries’ – Washington Post
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.