A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: A Memoir Based on a True Story

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: A Memoir Based on a True Story

by Dave Eggers
3.9 240


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Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 240 reviews.
MontyGeorge More than 1 year ago
"A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" is a strange, confusing, out of order, dizzying ride.... fabulous book! Worth the read, but not for casual readers as you'll want to finish the book in one sitting. Eggers is a "trip".
Jessie93 More than 1 year ago
Definitely an interesting read. You need patience to read this book. Eggers is a total scatter-brains. There will be numerous time throughout the book that you will feel like there is no point to the book at all. You will read page after page of nothing. The young Eggers in this memoir can be very self-absorbed and that is very annoying. Some parts are mildly entertaining and his thought process is completely over the top. Seems like a good book for a psychologist to read and then come up with a proper diagnosis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book difficult to read because of the writer's self absorbtion. However,it was touching how he showed his love for his young brother and how he cared for him. But all through the book I kept thinking about his "flight of ideas"and overworked imagination. Interestingly, we had thoughtful discussions at our book club meeting.
BlairDT More than 1 year ago
"A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" could more accurately be titled" A Colossal Pile of Self-Serving Drivel". Eggers focuses on the tragedies that befall him and his family and when that source of sympathy starts to dry up he inserts himself into the tragedies of other people in his life no matter how remote the relationship. It is typical from Mr. Eggers' generation, Gen X, the Slackers, to play the martyr and expect praise for doing the things that most people consider normal. I don't know why this book was selected as a Pulitzer finalist and I would not recommend it to anyone. And that's not even mentioning the horrendous editing - I counted 15 commas in one sentence - this book should give an English teacher a stroke. I hope Eggers' style has changed now that he is writing fiction but I will never know because I will never read him again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my all-time favorite book. However, I think knowing about the theories of postmodernism is crucial to understanding his underlying meanings and to appreciating the memoir as a whole. This work is a perfect example of extreme metafiction, playing games with the games that postmodernists play (which makes it post-postmodern), and mocking the typical, self-indulgent memoir. Just as the title says, the memoir is a truly heartbreaking story. You really get to know him, his voice, & his humor.
Mitchell_Pavel-123 More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a great book that was original and it makes the reader think not only about the text itself but also about their own views on life. Even though Dave's stroy was specific and exact to him he managed to pull the reader into it and made them think about their own life. The book was however very thick and some what of a slow read because of the wide range of descriptions. If read avidly it will easily draw any reader close to the characters and evoke thought and deep emotions from them. It is dramatic but should not be read by anyone who is sensitivce to profanity or depressing thoughts.
shelly11 More than 1 year ago
There are three factors that determine a successful memoir: a unique style, sense of trust, and the ability to relate. The weird thing is, I didn't know these were the factors until after I finished this book. Dave Eggers does everything exactly right. I felt like I had dove into my own psyche, like he knew and felt every one of my own insecurities about myself and if people like me and losing everything important to me someday. I especially related to his stream of consciousness tangents, which would gradually get more and more ridiculous as they progressed. He is irrational, self-centered, and skittish. But he is very aware of it. Eggers does not try to make himself look any better than he is. In fact, he is more than willing to admit that he is not the most virtuous of people, and not everything he is retelling is totally accurate. This only made me trust him more; after all, who hasn't added some embellishments to a story being retold? And what a story it is; losing both parents within a month of each other, and then having to become the guardian of a child, all at the age of 21. Eggers handles his situation with a sense of humor and levity that is inspiring. His writing feels so personal, like reading a friend's diary. I felt his happiness, sadness, and by the end, I felt like we had both come out of a tough time stronger than ever and we could take on the world. The "staggering genius" of this book comes not in his triumph over his unfortunate situation or his unique way of writing (although it certainly has a lot to do with it); rather, it is his ability to describe his flaws and doubts, which are humankind's flaws and doubts too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was pure genius. He writes to please himself, not the reader, in my opinion. I think that's the way it should be. While I was reading it, I couldn't help but feel slightly jealous. His words are so captivating that I found myself reading in the hallways from class to class. I hope someday my writing can be as inspiring as his.
McSienimicki More than 1 year ago
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers was indeed heartbreaking and staggering. The most impressive part of this work was that the reader never loses sight of the author's voice. Throughout the entire novel there is the constant and consistent voice of the author reliving his early twenties. Even if at times the voice is manic, cynical, or hilariously sarcastic, the voice is always there. It's a book that's good for reading if you like a strong narrative that just pulls you through the whole way easily and the reader has to do hardly any work at all to keep up. The book finds a quirky way of telling the story of this young man's desperate years after losing his parents and being put upon to raise his younger brother and find a way of sustaining them both. In telling about incidents at home or at work the author tells the story almost more like a stream of consciousness that is relatable to everyone. The story is overall endearing as this young man struggles to maintain what he hopes to be a normal life though they are anything but normal. This book is an excellent and moving read. It's fast paced and conversational in that one might not even feel like they're reading, but instead jumping straight into the mind of the author.
Mit_Nitram More than 1 year ago
Let me start off by informing you that I read this book for a school assignment. I cannot think of any other reason I would have picked it up unless someone recommended it. Nobody I know is an avid reader so I feel very fortunate I got stuck with Dave Eggers. Our teacher gave us a brief synopsis of the books and when she covered A.H.W.o.S.G. I thought to myself "steer clear of that one, it sounds incredibly depressing". Well needless to say that was the work I was assigned, and I enjoyed every page. Dave eggers memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, has an intricately designed plot alternately layering the sad and the dismal with the bright and the cheerful. The hopeless optimism that shines through the characters is somewhat uplifting (was it inspiring? not really but I didn't feel as negative about my life, like "it could be worse"). I have read novels, even memoirs, where the protagonist overcomes the odds so that isn't why I liked it. (In fact if you are looking for the cheerful story aforementioned, you should look elsewhere) No, what I liked and can really respect is an author who does not take themselves seriously. I don't mean too seriously, I mean seriously. Read the 60 or so pages of the preface and you'll understand what I mean. If and when you come across an author who advises you to skip large portions of their own work let me know. I could not read this book in public because I found myself laughing hysterically or even nodding, like to acknowledge I understood what he was trying to say. This leads me to my first gripe. It is at time difficult to understand. This is a re-read each page type of book, I had to go back and read entire passages that were unclear. This book is not concise, it is actually pretty manic and it tends to spiral Yeah his sense of humor is out there, you either like it or you don't. My second complaint is that unless you honestly do well at trivial pursuit a few culture references will go right over your head. I got enough of them but I had Google everything else. So I liked the memoir. I think if I wrote a legitimate book it would probably be similar. I would recommend it, but you really have to be patient, as in it takes a while for the sunnier side to appear.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic. Finally finished this. Must must read he's a true storyteller. And with a style id kill to have a fraction of.
debramathis More than 1 year ago
I suppose all memoirs are written as an exercise in ego-stroking, but Eggers manages to remind us of this purpose throughout the whole book. I hated him by the end which is unfortunate because there is a good story in all that clever posturing. 
babybelly More than 1 year ago
A definite read. Original, thought-provoking, and definitely self-reflective; even if the writer himself impies that everyone is self-absorbed (he included!). It breaks hearts and warms them as well. I do wonder though, did he ever find his little stuffed bear?
jhallen More than 1 year ago
Dave Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," is a genuinely written novel. Personally, I liked how Dave overly used detail and wrote out his entire thought process. Many would say that Dave rambles throughout the novel, but I see it as his genuine writing style. It is almost as if Dave has A.D.D. and O.C.D. due to his "what-if" nature of thinking. As for the plot, I think that anyone could have been in Dave's shoes, but wouldn't have dealt with it as nonchalant as he had. Even though this book dwindles around the fiction section, I believe most of the events actually happened. The fact that the novel is more or less what Dave went through captivated me, and made me realize how deep of a situation it was and how he could look back on it and make it entertaining and not-so-depressing. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars, because of the dry spots within the middle of the novel. Even though the book is a good read, I don't think a discussion should be solely based on it. -Jonathan Allen
thestone19 More than 1 year ago
Dave Eggers writing is lyrical and grabbing. Granted it took me a few weeks longer to read this than I intended but I am not a fast reader to begin with. I was recommended this book by a friend and found the first few chapters ripe with emotion. He writes about his experience and you feel connected with him because it is something that we all can relate to. The emotion and anger and frustration and almost psychotic rhetoric are very believable (cause it happened) and moving. The book starts and ends strong with the middle getting a little boring. However, the author realizes this and prefaces the book by telling the reader to skip these pages. Over all, I was very satisfied and would recommend this to anyone who is looking for an author who can paint beautiful music with type.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book for a school project. I feel like everything bad has happened to the author; from losing both parents at a young age, to raising a brother as a son, having friends deal with suicide attempts, and struggling at work. he has a very odd sense of humor and tends to ramble on random subjects often and for a while which was a little irritating thoughout the book. It did keep my interest as far as wondering what might happen next to him and toph and where they might end up. Overall i wouldn't call it a bad book. If you picked it up to read, you probably wouldn't regret it.
mynameisdan More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was alright. I thought that it was annoying when he would go off on random rants for several pages at a time. I could relate to the story of losing loved ones to cancer. This is the type of story you read for a deep meaning. Its not the type of story you can just pick up and read for entertainment.
bookburner123 More than 1 year ago
When first hearing the synopsis of this book, I was enthused about reading it and I remained interested up until about page 150 when I began to feel stranded in the middle of a never-ending book. Dave Egger's does a good job telling his "heartbreaking" story but I don't understand how the word "genius" was incorporated into the title. It was interesting to hear Egger's talk about his struggles and the traumatizing events that his family experienced, but I'd save alot of time watching an episode of "Extreme Makeover" to get the same emotional effect. Egger's style of writing is different than most others, in which he writes more descriptions than an encyclopedia and the descriptions make up most of the book, not the story itself. I'd often find myself reading a five page description of something unimportant and losing what is actually happening in the story. In most books I am able to understand why the author wrote the story, but I found no themes or morals in the book and I didn't feel any different after I read the book as I did before I read it. This book has been acknowledged as being a "must read," the plot would make for a decent short-story, but after the death of his parents, Egger writes plainly about unexciting events in his life and he hangs out with his little brother, and these are things I can do everyday.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because of the great reviews it had received. And after reading it, I am amazed that it got good reviews at all. Really. I enjoyed the first few chapters where the focus was on the parents and Toph. But I felt like the book started going downhill 'fast' when Eggers started talking so much about his magazine and The Real World. I really didn't care about either of those subjects. Plus, he was VERY annoying. He blabbed on and on about how sorry he felt for himself and about how much better he was than everybody else because of the trials he had been through. In my opinion, he was not likeable at all. And after the things he said, I surely didn't feel sorry for him 'the way he wanted everybody in the story to'. He'd also get off on tangents that I found unnecessary and boring. I would have enjoyed the book much more if it had been focused more on his raising his brother and not on his magazine. I only finished the book because I was waiting for the heartbreaking part to come along 'not to mention the genius'. I would not recommend that anybody read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Why, why did I waste my time reading this book? AHWOSG was such a dissapointment. Eggars is funny at first, but he gets really annoying fast.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I thought this was a great read and the author's voice is honest and unique.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good at first then gt really stupid and boring Wish i had my 2 bucks back!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not for the faint of heart. Ths book can often be jumbled and hard to follow, but ultimately lives up to it's title of genius. While his imagination is so over the top, Eggers' thoughts and feelings are extremely relatable. The meta style was refreshing and unique, as well as his constant reminders to his readers the failures of memory and how feelings get in the way of accuracy. It was unlike any memoir I've ever read in the sense that the author blatantly acknowledges how self-serving memoirs are by nature. It makes for a humorous read and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone!
Chancie More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, and although the plot is a little lacking at times, it's still engaging and interesting to read. Honestly, once I was about fifty to a hundred pages in, I had a difficult time putting it down. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So many great reviews, but I was bored by this book. I couldn't make myself finish it. Scattered, immature, lacking depth.