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NewCityNet Real Genius

By Shelly Ridenour

FEBRUARY 28, 2000: 

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (Simon & Schuster)

It's a story that couldn't have been imagined in the mind of John Irving—college kid lives a pretty "normal" middle-class suburban life, until his parents succumb to cancer in the space of a few months, he becomes the de facto guardian for his 8-year-old brother, his career is a rollercoaster ride of hyped highs and lows (including the failed but vaunted Might magazine), one friend miraculously survives a horrible accident even as another flirts with taking his own life...

But it's the plot, if you will, of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", the laugh-out-loud funny and, yeah, heartbreaking memoirs of Dave Eggers. Remember when JFK Jr. died last summer and certain media outlets were making such a big deal about the Kennedy family curse, and so many people responded with, "But everyone has death in their family, tragedy in their lives"? Yeah, but it can't be denied that some experiences just are more stunning than others. And, told in Eggers' smart-ass but caring voice, "A Heartbreaking Work" should come with a warning: Clear the weekend—this book will eat you alive.


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