This is fabulous, hilarious, sad and totally original writing.
No, it isn’t for everyone- it certainly isn’t Jane Austen’s mannered family drama; but Eggers’ family tale and his commentary on the tragic deaths of his parents seems to sear right through all of our preconceptions and just as he mocks and satirizes aspects of life, he also possesses a hyper-sensitivity to human nature that makes all the clever tricks work somehow. In this book the tricks include: Rules for Enjoyment, a really long preface, obscure acknowlegments, and even some funky work on the cataloging-in-process page (Hi, catalogers, didn’t this just brighten your day!). But he makes it work and that is what matters. I also enjoyed You Shall Know Our Velocity-so if you have already read the memoir check it out instead. A quote from “Heartbreaking”:
“Just as some police-particularly those they dramatize on television-might be familiar with death, and might expect it at any instant-not necessarily their own, but death generally-so does the author, possessing a naturally paranoid disposition, compounded by environmental factors that make it seem not only possible, but probable that whatever there might be out there that snuffs our life is probably sniffing around for him, that his number is perennially, eternally, up, that his draft number is low, that his bingo card is hot, that he has a bull’s-eye on his chest and a target on his back. It’s fun. You’ll see.”