The memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. A debut work that is a comical and experimental story of the love that holds a family together.
What’s most amazing about Mr. Eggers’ very fine new book, what staggers the reader and justifies the book’s title, cover art and position on the New York Times bestseller list, is how thoroughly Mr. Eggers’ self-deprecating tone and narrative tricks suck the reader in. Mr. Eggers allows us to remain as wary of cheap sentiment as he himself clearly is, paying us the compliment of not presuming we’ll weep on cue, like Oprah’s studio audience. Mr. Eggers doesn’t rely on the facts of his family tragedy or on his readers’ too-often-taken-for-granted empathy. He dares to entertain us, and then, once we’ve let our guard down, his very fine new book breaks our motherfucking hearts.
There are so many reasons to dislike this super-hip, self-consciously ironic autobiography that it's something of a disappointment to report how wonderful it is...Of course, his book isn't for everyone (people who don't speak English will find it particularly oblique), but this may be the bridge from the Age of Irony to Some Other As Yet Unnamed Age that we've been waiting for.
While Staggering Genius is admittedly uneven, that's paradoxically part of its unpredictable charm: Eggers would never go about things the standard way, and the book—at times both heartbreaking and genius—ably reflects his idiosyncratic, hyper-casual, pop-culture-saturated worldview.