A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today's book, "Literary self-consciousness and technical invention mix unexpectedly in this engaging memoir by Eggers, editor of the literary magazine McSweeney's and the creator of a satiric 'zine called Might, who subverts the conventions of the memoir by questioning his memory, motivations and interpretations so thoroughly that the form itself becomes comic. Eggers describes his parents' horrific deaths from cancer within a few weeks of each other during his senior year of college, and his decision to move with his eight year-old brother, Toph, from the suburbs of Chicago to Berkeley, near where his sister, Beth, lives."

Heartbreaking (yet shallow) thoughts:

  • I will confess dear readers, that I have already read today's book. But, thanks to the magic of my horrifying bad memory, I was able to read it today as if it was the fist time. In fact, the only part I even remembered was the picture of the stapler in the acknowledgement section and the part about The State of the Family Room Address. It's ever so slightly disturbing to be reading a book I've already read about five times and still be able to turn the pages thinking, I wonder what's going to happen next, but on the other hand, it is kind of nice to be able to read a book that feels fresh and new and still have the complete assurance that I will enjoy it.

  • I actually remember buying today's book, which for is amazing for me since I retain the memory of buying about 6 books. Which results in me frequently approaching my to-read stacks as if I am looking through the books of a stranger. Oh look, this person likes reading about the 40s - what a coincidence, so do I. Then there are those horrifying moments when I'm thinking, Why on earth would anyone buy a book about making their own soap. Please don't ask me to explain why dear readers, but there is a recurring theme in my life where 10% of me desperately wants to be the kind of person who makes their own soap while the other 90% continues to be the kind of person who doesn't even enjoy driving to the store to buy soap. So anyway, back to the story of buying the book: I was in one of those book clubs where you buy 5 books for a dollar, and then you have to buy two books at full price over the next year. Yes, I'm one of those kind of people. Go ahead and mock me for it if you want dear readers, I don't mind. In fact, I kind of deserve it, because I didn't just do that once. No, this was a six year habit - I would join the club, get a few books that I actually want, forget to send the "No Thank You" card in 3 or 4 times, end up with a couple of books that I hate and have no use for, then quit the club in disgust, only to join another one six months later. But, I am happy to report, that it has been at least five years since I have bought any magic beans, so I think I may have shaken that bad habit for good. So, I was in the book club, and I saw the book in the catalog and liked the cover, and since I had my club requirements to meet anyway, I figured why not.

  • And now I'm going to share a useful stress-fighting tip with you, which today's book has reminded me of. I read this passage, "I have plans for them, the nosy, the inquisitive, the pitying, have developed elaborate fantasies for those who would see us as grotesque, pathetic, our situation gossip fodder. I picture strangulations. . . " the passage goes on from there, but you get the point dear readers. I find in situations when someone is really getting on my nerves that the best way to handle it is to calmly and rationally picture their head exploding. Immature? Probably. Obnoxious? Sure. Effective? Absolutely. I encourage you to try it as soon as possible dear readers.

  • Favorite sentence, "But still, my feeling is that if you're not self-obsessed you're probably boring." - Amen to that. Or maybe I'm just looking for something to justify devoting blog entry after blog entry to obsessing over myself. But, what's my alternative, if I spent the whole time on the blog obsessing over someone else I would just come off looking creepy and disturbed. So really, I have no choice but to obsess over myself. . . well, I mean, I could actually devote more than 10% of my blog entries to writing about the book I've read that day, but I don't see any reason to take drastic measures like that.