A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Book - 2001
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"I think this book is kind of malleable. I've never really wanted to put it away and be done with it forever -- the second I first 'finished' it, I wanted to dig back in and change everything around. So I'm looking forward to getting back into the text, and straightening and focusing and deleting. Most of all, I'm thrilled that Vintage will be letting me include all the cool chase scenes, previously censored." -- Dave Eggers

The literary sensation of the year, a book that redefines both family and narrative for the twenty-first century. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his seven-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is an instant classic that will be read in paperback for decades to come.

PAPERBACK EDITION -- 15% MORE STAGGERING - Eggers has written 15,000 additional words for the Vintage Canada edition, including an entirely new appendix.
Publisher: Toronto :, Vintage Canada, a division of Random House Canada Limited,, 2001
Edition: Vintage Canada edition
ISBN: 9780676973655
Branch Call Number: ANF 973. 92092 EGG
Characteristics: xiv, 437 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


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DBRL_IdaF Jan 14, 2019

The writing in this memoir rings true. Emotionally true, I mean. Reminiscent of Anne Lamott.

When Eggers was 21 years old, both of his parents died within a few weeks of each other. He and his sister found themselves raising their 7-year-old little brother while trying to launch into their own adult lives. This book will make you feel all of the feelings.

ArapahoeBethW Aug 06, 2017

It's interesting when a book makes you laugh, breaks your heart, but also invokes the classic face-palm because, at points, you are so exasperated with the author. A young Eggers loses both his parents in the span of a month. Dang... Barely an adult himself, he ends up raising his 8 year old brother, Toph. Eggers takes you through his story like you are part of his cast, a life long old pal. In a bizarre way this makes so much sense. I worked with Eggers years ago on his Denver stop for the What Is the What tour, he invited everyone there out for a beer afterwards. Everyone. He instantly makes you his friend. In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, you are his friend, his classmate, his co-worker, through every struggle, neurotic thought, and narcissistic behavior. Does this make him a genius? Yeah, ok, it probably does... but please don't tell him that :).

Jul 18, 2017

Extremely well written. Eggers writes from an honest place, that isn't always 100% likeable, and that honesty grants a refreshing air to this memoir-fiction combo. I found the structure of the book to be more readable than a traditional memoir, and while it is told out with a different emphasis than straight factuality, that doesn't diminish its message or its truth at all. Laugh out loud funny in the quirkiest way possible.

Mar 21, 2016

A self-indulgent, post-modern and self-conscious story about twenty-somethings mostly on the west coast which would have been better if shorter and edited. Nevertheless, Eggers talent (although not genius) comes through.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 18, 2014

Yes, even the verso and the preface are inspired in this wonderful memoir by Eggers. His humourous and ironic touch lightens the heartbreaking tragedy that befalls his family but leaves us hopeful for their survival. The deep love that Dave has for his younger brother, Toph, is truly inspirational. It underlines the enduring faith in family that may get knocked around but staggers through to salvation.

multcolib_central Jul 11, 2014

How would you cope if you were a young indulgent hipster riddled with nervousness who's forced to witness the slow deaths of both your parents from cancer within weeks of each other and so become the DE facto caregiver to your 8 yr. old brother? Would you write a book in an original, funny and poignant voice about the experience?

May 03, 2014

Great book by a local author. Amazing story, recommend it to anyone.

Dec 11, 2013

I had to read this book for school. While the review that the teacher gave us was all positive, when I started reading it, I was ... underwhelmed, to say the least. The first chapter, nothing happens. The author, at the beginning of the novel, even suggested that some might want to skip to the middle, which is what I did. Then, things began (only a little) to get more interesting, so that was fun, but it still was definitely not a book that is one of those you can't put down. Maybe I'm not analytical enough, but it seems like it's a very simple memoir of the author's childhood, and that is it. Sure, there's lots of humor in it, but not enough to make me want to read it. Flat and simple and plain. As a metaphor, To Kill A Mockingbird is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, while this is half a piece of bread, plain and simple. I rated it 3 stars because while I didn't like it, I did finish it, so it can't be that bad.

jaelle Mar 27, 2013

I read the reviews and found that this book is proably too esoteric for me.

Aug 24, 2012

I love Dave Eggers work but I did not enjoy this collection of short stories at all! That being said, short stories aren't my favorite format. I pushed through to the end hoping I'd 'get it' but I didn't :)

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bumpyminion Aug 23, 2013

I pick her up. We walk down to Nickie’s. It’s small, full of bodies, sweltering.

bumpyminion Aug 23, 2013


bumpyminion May 30, 2013

“To have lost one parent, Mr. Worthing, might be considered a misfortune. To have lost both smacks of carelessness”

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