A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; Mistakes we knew we were making: notes, corrections, clarifications, apologies, addenda by Dave Eggers
I had been wanting to read this book for a long time. When it was published in 2000 it was well-received by critics and readers alike. The book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It still remains popular and shows up on many recommended reading lists. I had a student book club member at my last school who loved the book and wanted us to read it, but members didn't go for it unfortunately.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a memoir, not a true autobiography, in which Mr. Eggers takes many creative liberties and admits as much. (Unlike James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces, who tried to pass off his work as nonfiction. Remember the Oprah fiasco?) At the age of 22 he loses both parents to cancer within five months of each other. Mr. Eggers then assumes the role of caretaker for his eight-year-old brother. I found this part of the book to be most enjoyable. The trials and tribulations of being orphaned and having to care for a sibling make for good drama including the parent-teacher meetings and fending off social services. At the same time Mr. Eggers is trying to establish a career as a writer and live his life as a young man in the 90s. He and some friends created a satirical magazine called Might, which eventually folded. He currently publishes the successful (and unique) literary periodical McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and has written other books. Mr. Eggers writes about his unsuccessful audition for MTV's "The Real World". The interview is included here. He has a terrific sense of humor. Overall, the book was enjoyable, but I do think males would like it more than females. It's kind of a guy thing. (Ms. Stalteri, September 29, 2010)