A strange mixture of cynicism and hopefulness, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is Dave Eggers’ attempt to unpack his own mind and find meaning in his parents’ death.
Anyone who feels lost in their own thoughts will find something uncomfortably relatable here. Eggers bravery while raising with his little brother is accompanied by narcissism, and a refusal to be put on a pedestal with an acknowledgment of his desperation to be seen by millions as a genius. It would have been easy for him to focus on pure tragedy, but this is a funny book. A funny book that hurts deeply at times.
Eggers feels stripped raw and exposed, his flaws in plain view while he stares straight at you and dares you to judge him for them.
An asshole; aggressively intelligent; selfish; loyal. Eggers is not easily explained and neither is this book, a self-conscious meta-memoir where some of the most honest moments are fictional. His prose is triumphant and his story is, yes, heartbreaking, but he feels flawed and honest and funny and alive throughout. This is a novel in which you feel a heart beating angrily through the pages, trying to burst free.