Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers One summer, when I was on bedrest during my third pregnancy, three of my girlfriends got together and sent me a care package of books, magazines, and other fun things. One of the books, to my delight, was Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a 2001 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, which I'd been dying to read.::: The Plot :::A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, or A.H.W.O.S.G., as it's often known, is a mostly autobiographical book about the life of the author, Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney's and the now-defunct Might Magazine.At the age of 22, Eggers is orphaned after both of his parents die of cancer in swift succession, and is left both an orphan and parent to his youngest brother, 8-year-old Christopher, known as Toph. As Eggers and his siblings Bill and Beth try to make sense of their lives, deal with their parents' deaths, and learn to parent Toph, he moves back and forth across the country, often lives in squalor, founds a magazine and then watches it go under, and tells us all about each trial and tribulation.::: The Real Heartbreak :::Perhaps I was too jaded by the time I finally got my hands on this book; perhaps I knew too much about what happened after the book stops: that Beth had committed suicide, that Eggers became so successful. I found the book to be annoying, self-involved, and most of all, overhyped.Eggers is his own best promoter, including 20 pages of acknowledgments, a huge preface, an Incomplete Guide to Symbols and Metaphors, and an offer of $5.00 to the first 200 readers who send in proof that they bought the book as well as a creative picture of themselves reading the book. He admits himself that the last 200 pages or so of the book are "uneven" (putting it mildly), but it's a nudge in the ribs: "See, even I don't take this book seriously."This book should have lived up to its title, because Eggers' life experience alone should have been heartbreaking. The fact that he had to shoulder so much responsibility at such a young age and yet still found the ability and fortitude to pursue his desire to be a writer should have made this a book that I couldn't put down, and yet it took me almost a year to finish reading it. Long rambling passages and a "Look at me! I'm writing! It's sad!" tone left me able to read this book only in small doses, and the last 200 pages were just as uneven, and practically unreadable, as promised.::: Overall :::I'm still in shock that this book was a Pulitzer finalist. It could have been an unbelievably compelling book, but instead, is so full of the author's patting himself on the back and yanking on the readers' heartstrings that you just can't cut through the mire to get to the heart of the story.This review previously published at Epinions:

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