Sarah's Reviews > A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
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's review
Sep 07, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: memoirs

People seem to love or hate this book and I'm sympathetic to both perspectives. I suggest that the reader take the author's advice (found on the first page of the newest edition) and skip the snarky, tiresome preface in its entirety. If you dive right into the narrative itself, it's far more enjoyable.

As in What is the What?, Eggers again explores an unpleasant aspect of human experience in all of its emotional complexity. The story is compelling because of its honesty: life goes on and humor and joy exists even in the midst of sorrow.

While the underlying coming-of-age story is universal, there is a generational aspect to this book that I'm not sure will play to every audience. For me, San Francisco in the 90s is a close parallel to the Austin of the same time, so Eggers' sentimental recollections of the conflicting hopefulness and ennui of early-20s, post-college life in the Clinton era was easy to identify with.

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