Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers

Honestly, I don't know where to start with this book.

Would it help to write the review interview-style? 

Actually, maybe it would. Let's try it.

OK. So how did you come by this book? 

This is one of those books I feel like I have seen mentioned around a lot, but I knew nothing about it. So normally I shy away from these books; I mean, who, who, should, like, read all these so-called "popular" books, like, should I read it ironically? If I read it, does that make me a poseur? Am I just another sheep-like book blogger, tap-tap-tapping out my little words about the same half-dozen "buzz books," which I buy because, you know, they're so famous and talked about? Does it matter? When I was in third grade I had this teacher, we'll call her Mrs. Smith, although of course (of course!) her real name was different, and Mrs. Smith was one of those old battle-ax teachers who was like somewhere between 85 and like 10,000 years old, and she hated me, HATED me, and would have me leave the classroom and stand in the hall as punishment for any perceived infraction.

That sounds like it was hard, but what does it have to do with--

What does it have to do with this book? I don't know, what does anything have to do with this book? I always talk about the Library Sale shelves, and how much I love to find 50 cent paperbacks there, but then sometimes I get so wrapped up in wondering how these cast-off books, these castaways, these unwanted items, how they ended up on those shelves, and how their value has been lost --

-- lost --

how in the act of being given away (note to self: buy a thesaurus) they lose all value, all sense of self. So this book, this paperback, this culmination of the apex of the concatenation of the phalanges of one person, one soul, one singularity, and the synergy of the synthesis of the keyboard, and the act of...

Are you alright? You seem kind of all over the place.

I lost my train of thought, what was I saying? Oh yeah, so I knew nothing about this book but after reading it once again I am struck by an author's unreal privilege. I realize that this book was written in the past, the not-so-distant but distant-enough past, so it's hazy and all but not too far behind us, and now, as a reader in this post-post-modern, post-Tumblr world, we perceive privilege and racism differently. So like the whole unbelievably racist scene on the beach, is, like, not mentioned anywhere in any reviews I can see, but it knocked me back, made me wonder, is this what passes for Pulitzer Prize-worthy writing? There are these trees near my house that produce these beautiful blossoms each spring, and sometimes the blossoms don't necessarily change to leaves or fall off or whatever they're supposed to do, so come August you have these trees that have some kind of stubborn blossoms on them next to the leaves, and I wonder, is that a problem? Someone should call a botanist or something.

So you got this book for 50 cents and part of it was racist. Anything else? 

Am I allowed to think part of this book was horribly racist as long as it was a small part? Should I overlook it? Chalk it up to grief? What is a reader to do? Is it OK that there were a few parts that made me laugh? (Not the racist part) Does that make me a bad person? Is it wrong that I think Prince Charles Nelson Reilly is a great name for a band? Now am I a poseur? I'm so tired.

Sounds like you need a rest. 

I do. I really do.


TL/DR: it's neither


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