After his parents die, Dave Eggers finishes college and then moves to Berkeley with his little brother. Together they pretend to be parent and child, while eschewing cooking, cleaning, bill-paying, and neighbor-chatting. Instead, they prefer to wrestle in public and pelt each other with breakfast fruit. A highly personal look at an unconventional family, this memoir is also a dead-on account of the hoopla surrounding the Generation X hype of the early 1990s -- with Eggers in the middle of it as magazine editor, newspaper ...
After his parents die, Dave Eggers finishes college and then moves to Berkeley with his little brother. Together they pretend to be parent and child, while eschewing cooking, cleaning, bill-paying, and neighbor-chatting. Instead, they prefer to wrestle in public and pelt each other with breakfast fruit. A highly personal look at an unconventional family, this memoir is also a dead-on account of the hoopla surrounding the Generation X hype of the early 1990s -- with Eggers in the middle of it as magazine editor, newspaper columnist, and momentary (and self-parodying) generational spokesperson. As might be expected from the cofounder of the acclaimed satirical magazine Might and the much-heralded new literary journal McSweeney's, Eggers has written a darkly comic anti-memoir which is highly entertaining and thoroughly unconventional. It's deeply self-conscious and self-deprecating and also daringly lyrical; it's at once very dark, very funny, full of razor-sharp satire while also brimming with heart and passion.
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(I?m sure other reviewers out there have come up with much more cleverly insulting re-workings of the title, which lends itself to cleverly insulting re-workings, but I just don?t have their flair.)
I hated this book so much I wished it was sentient so I could do it physical harm. This would have been an acceptable substitute for doing Dave Eggars physical harm.
I wish I could give it zero--or negative--stars. But I guess 1 will have to suffice.
I just don't understand how a book with this basic plot--a young man who loses his parents and must care for his young brother--can be so nauseatingly awful. This is truly Eggars' greatest achievement.
I came away from [what I read of] the book with the unshakable feeling that Eggars only did about 99% of what he wrote about having done so that he could write about having done it and have it be true, so he could say it was true.
I think what got me the most, besides the mind-numbing descriptions of Eggars' magazine "work," was his painfully affected attitude of cluelessness about parenting. No matter how little experience you have, I'm pretty sure you could figure out that calling your pre-teen brother a "retard" and using frequent, R-rated swears aren't good tactics. Probably your mom impressed that upon you before she died.
All I have left to say of this book and Eggars' "talent" is, thank God your parents are dead so they were spared the embarrassment of sharing your last name, and I understand why your sister committed suicide.
Mar 17, 2008
This memoir sings. I really cannot say enough wonderful things about it. It is angry, and hopeful, and joyful, and hilarious, and touching, and wonderfully alive. I pretty much couldn't put it down. Who cares abut writerly skill and pacing and characterization, even if all these elements are solid and well deserving of the critical acclaim it has received? This book is about a gut response, not an intellectual one. Go read it.
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