I buy books. And sometimes I read them. This blog is for the times when I do more than just store shelf candy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


If I were to write a novel or an autobiography, I would want to write like Eggers does. 98% sap free. With both his parents dying of cancer weeks apart and having to give up the freedom of youth to take care of his younger brother Toph, it would have been easy and justified to write a sentimental piece filled with maudlin musings. Instead, Eggers writes with such profound and honest humor.

Maybe the title puts you off. It is audacious. It is cocky. But know that it is said with tongue in cheek. At some point, in fact, Eggers even calls the book stupid.

Is it sollipsistic? Hell, yeah. How can it not be? It is an autobiography after all. With the tragic events of his life, a healthy amount of self absorption is necessary to excavate suppressed feelings and purge himself of his demons. This book is Eggers' cathartic way of sorting through the dirty, rotten emotions of grieving so he can move on and get on with the dirty but fulfilling tasks of taking care of his brother, a responsibility so prematurely and suddenly thrust upon him.

Is it sad? Yes. Poignant. Heartbreaking. But Eggers does not have time to mope. He deals with his losses with braggadocio, hilarity, and sometimes the most absurd form of pain-denial. His love for Toph manifests through his unspoken fears of how he might turn out to be because his dysfunctional upbringing "...would cause him to feel unwanted and alone, leading to the warping of his fragile psyche, then to experimentation with inhalants, to the joining of some River's Edge gang, too much flannel and too little remorse, the cutting of his own tats, the drinking of lamb's blood, the inevitable initiation-fulfilling murder of me and Beth in our sleep" or he might "grow up to sell crack or sing in a harmonizing pop group from Florida."

Is it funny? Very. And intelligent. And moving. And sardonic. Angry. Too many cuss words to be for general patronage. Sometimes silly. Sometimes inspiring. Sincere. Powerful. Staggering. Genius.

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