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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius | [Dave Eggers]

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Dave Eggers scored a worldwide phenomenon with this memoir that topped national best-seller lists and has since become a staple for summer reading and book clubs. A compelling voice for Generation X, Eggers hererecounts his early 20s, caring for his younger brother after their parents’ unexpected deaths and his endeavors in a variety of media.
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Publisher's Summary

Dave Eggers scored a worldwide phenomenon with this memoir that topped national best-seller lists and has since become a staple for summer reading and book clubs. A compelling voice for Generation X, Eggers hererecounts his early 20s, caring for his younger brother after their parents’ unexpected deaths and his endeavors in a variety of media.

©2000 David K. Eggers (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

“Not just for the MTV-fan age group, this is a very entertaining, well-written book.” (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (286 )
5 star
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3.5 (191 )
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Story
3.9 (187 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 12-03-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 12-03-12 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Parts I loved, Parts I hated but Playfully Kinetic"

    There are parts of this book I absolutely loved. There are also parts of it I definitely hated. I think Eggers' talent is obvious, his playfulness kinetic, his abilility to make his own grief/history both gruesome and beautiful by basically eating every experience and person surrounding him (disposal of his mom's ashes is a good example). Eventually his thinking about the thinking and thinking about the thinking about thinking kinda drove me a little nuts.

    I do want to distinguish my own discomfort with this early Dave Eggers book from the current jealous-hipster backlash against Eggers. Yes, my hipster MFA people, Eggesr isn't Henry James, certainly, but still he manages to subvert the artificial separation between fiction and memoirs in aHWofSG. So, just admit that part of your animosity towards this book is that you didn't think of it, write it, or end up actually being able to make a living/achieve fame from a book you wrote in your twenties (same feelings that bubbles up whenever a Foer brother publishes something)

    I'm also glad I waited to read/listen to this until Eggers had proven through McSweeney's, and his more recent books of nonfiction and fiction, that he wasnt just a gimmicky one-hit-wonder.

    Oh, and Dion Graham's read of aHWofSG was kindof amazing.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 07-26-12
    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 07-26-12 Member Since 2011
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    "It was hard to move onto another book after this!"

    I loved this book. I could relate to his inner monologue and found myself laughing many times throughout the book. I read a few negative reviews and I can see how one might take issue with the following aspects: the narrator, focus on death, and as one reviewer called it, "breathless, non-stop chatter." First, I can understand how one might dislike Dion Graham, he is certainly over the top at times. Personally, I like his narration in this book, I thought he suited the material. In reference to the focus on death, it's completely relevant to the story line. Finally, the "non-stop chatter" could get annoying if you're not into that style. Personally, I tend to have the same attention deficit disorder type thought process so it worked for me. I thought it was well written and engaging, I highly recommend this book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cori United States 08-09-10
    Cori United States 08-09-10
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    "Please do listen"

    For this is a very special and beautifully rendered recording of this book. I listened with rapt attention and was very moved. Superb!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 01-07-12
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 01-07-12 Member Since 2011

    I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.

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    "Genius"

    Genius on every level. The narrator is fantastic, he captures the feel and pacing of the book perfectly.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    danni Sointula, BC, Canada 02-14-11
    danni Sointula, BC, Canada 02-14-11 Member Since 2010
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    "A beautiful book for a lover of words"

    . I'm so glad I got this book in audio. Dion Graham's reading is art in it's self. Sometimes I'd run back a part just to listen to the words again.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sakunthala High Wycombe, United Kingdom 11-23-10
    Sakunthala High Wycombe, United Kingdom 11-23-10
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    "What a f-ing hipster"

    Possibly the best audiobook I've bought so far. Hillarious, honest and self aware, the narrator suits the text perfectly.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 02-17-14
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 02-17-14 Member Since 2002

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

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    "Great Book not right for everyone"

    Excellent narration is the cap to the fascinating and enjoyable novel. As much as I enjoyed this novel, I can see that many people would really not appreciate it. This is largely an inner stream of consciousness and there are a lot of four letter words and frank thoughts about sex and death. In the first chapter involving a death from cancer I was literally laughing and crying and nauseated and uplifted at the same time. I don’t mean alternately, I mean at the very same instant. This is pretty unusual writing. I was thinking Gen-X meets James Joyce. The characters, even some very minor characters, are quite well presented. If you want a story where the protagonist faces adversity only to take heart and overcome, you might not want this book (but maybe you should read it anyway). The characters do change, but not in pat ways, instead in the ways people really change. The protagonist is often not very likeable, yet he is human and the beauty of his existence sporadically flashes through. I am nearly as far as it gets from being a Gen-Xer but I really liked this book. The narration more than does justice to the text, shouting and crying, mumbling and enunciating when the writing called for it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ariel Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-31-10
    Ariel Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-31-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Amazing Narrator"

    The narrator was outstanding. He brought such range, and passion to this work, that he kept me thoroughly engaged. I actually attempted to read this in paperback form several years ago and did not finish it, but with his narration I loved this book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Miller Berkeley, CA United States 07-12-10
    J. Miller Berkeley, CA United States 07-12-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Heartbreaking Indeed"

    While the writer's sneering representation of Gen-X values and his obvious self-loathing make this book a difficult experience, they're also what set this memoir apart from autobiographical works of self-congratulation. Observing the author's furious, paranoid grasping for solid ground broke my heart, both for the narrator, laboring under a responsibility he's unprepared for, and for his brother, whose childhood is marked by loss and instability. The book made me remember what being 20-something was like. The reader's impassioned delivery is exactly what the author's voice called for.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul SAN ANSELMO, CA, United States 11-28-12
    Paul SAN ANSELMO, CA, United States 11-28-12
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    "Amazing Story Bested Only By Phenomenal Narration"
    Would you listen to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius again? Why?

    Graham's narration of Eggers' novel fits so phenomenally together that it seems odd to imagine either existing without the other.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius?

    The moments when Graham's fits of emotional ramblings and swearing mirrors the brilliance of Eggers' ability to paint the ways in which many of us delve into constant inner rants and arguments. Eggers does this, "lost in thought" ramble so fantastically that it makes me laugh at the thought previously I was the only one whom operated thus.


    Which character – as performed by Dion Graham – was your favorite?

    Dave's inner dialogue is perfectly done by Graham, quite literally perfect.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me want to do both, over and over again.


    Any additional comments?

    The way the narration fit seamlessly together with the prose made me want to experience Dave's other books again through the story telling aspect that has been done by Graham. It has made me want to follow both their careers more than when I started.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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