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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
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About the Author

Dave Eggers grew up near Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney's publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. In 2002, he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center in San Francisco's Mission District. Sister centers have since opened in seven other American cities under the umbrella of 826 National, and like-minded centers have opened in Dublin, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Birmingham, Alabama, among other locations. Eggers's work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, France's Prix M�dicis, Germany's Albatross Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the American Book Award. Eggers lives in Northern California with his family. His novels include The Circle, A Hologram for the King, and Heroes of the Frontier.

Reviews

How college senior Eggers loses both parents to cancer, inherits his eight-year-old brother, and eventually founds a couple of cutting-edge magazines. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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.

"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, The 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." --The New York Times Book Review "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." --The Washington Post "[F]unny, wildly intelligent.... What's consistent throughout is the full-throttle voice: the sensibility of the man who grieves his parents, who safeguards his brother, who knows that his own presence here can walk the line between 'self-conscious' and 'self-devouring." --The Boston Globe "Eggers crafts something universal here, something raw and real and wonderful that transcends any zeitgeist and manages to deal trenchantly with 'big issues' that often prove too daunting for younger writers: mortality, youth the artifice of writing, the Zen of Frisbee. This is a beautifully ragged, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly unforgettable book." --San Francisco Chronicle

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