“A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers Reviewed

A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers Reviewed

Hailey Alfaro, Creative Contributor

Review by Hailey Alfaro, junior 

Despite the fact that Eggers was writing a story about his life, he was also making fun of the accepted form of memoir writing. Eggers leaves nothing untouched in his book, including the copyright page which says “This is a work of fiction”. He continues to explain that, like any memoir, there is no possible way for him to remember all the exact details of every act and every conversation that he was apart of. This makes the reader question the writing and the memory of Eggers and how he perceives these memories.

The low parts of Eggers’ life are notable. The author loses both of his parents while in his early twenties. His parents pass within weeks of each other, leaving him with a young brother to raise at a time when he is not fully developed himself. Eggers is home from college when the story begins, he and his sister Beth are tending to their mother, who is walking on thin ice with cancer. They had promised to not take her to the hospital, but she continues to grow worse soon after the passing of her husband. Eggers and his sister force her to go to the hospital, concerned with her health, but its too late, she passes away at the hospital. After the funeral the siblings (Dave, Bill, Beth, and Toph) begin to pack up and sell the house. Beth goes to law school, Bill goes back to Southern California, and Dave along with Toph not far from Beth in Berkeley and settle in the new home. Getting Toph registered for school was the first time be felt responsible and parent like. Eggers goes through transitions when he realizes how sloppily he lives. Eggers is almost constantly worried something disastrous is going to happen to Toph whenever he is not with Eggers. So the author limits his social life and does lots of fun things with Toph; most of the conversations between the two are juvenile and vulgar. They make fun of each other just like brothers should.

The more disturbing parts of his memoir involve his friends and relatives who suffer from depression and threaten suicide. Some become ill and die, while others meet with accidents, such as falling several floors without dying, acquiring handicaps. As for the funny parts, they can be found throughout the story, as Eggers exposes the reader to his strange and wacky inner thoughts, which have a small lining of paranoia within them.