Eggars: A Genius? or Just Staggering?

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by David Eggars ventures into the presently unchartered waters of a fiction/non-fiction novel. It is a heartbreaking story about David Eggar’s parents, who died when he was in college, leaving him with an 8-year-old brother to take care of.

To say that the work is one of staggering genius is a bit of a stretch. Eggar’s moaning for pity and love is hypocritical because he says that’s exactly what you don’t want. He says that he doesn’t want people to pity him and his younger brother, but he is asking them to look at his life and feel bad for him.

Eggar’s trip down memory lane is all but cheerful, from the death of his mother, to the untimely death of his father and goes on further to an extensive history of past relationships which is altogether boring. The most obscure part to this revolutionary book are the exact boundaries between fact and fiction. Anything said by the author has to be taken with a grain of salt except for a few key facts.

Conversations throughout look into why reality is reality and how child rearing should be done. However, the dialogue is impossible to believe. Toph, a boy who is struggling with the death of two parents and constantly moves back and forth across the country has a vocabulary that would leave many readers turning to the dictionary every couple of lines.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a book worth reading. Five to ten years from now it has a good chance of being seen as the staple of American literature, but to read through it now may be tedious. Unfortunately, Eggar does not meet the challenge of living up to the title of his book.