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Excellent narration is the cap to the fascinating and enjoyable novel. As much as I enjoyed this novel, I can see that many people would really not appreciate it. This is largely an inner stream of consciousness and there are a lot of four letter words and frank thoughts about sex and death. In the first chapter involving a death from cancer I was literally laughing and crying and nauseated and uplifted at the same time. I don’t mean alternately, I mean at the very same instant. This is pretty unusual writing. I was thinking Gen-X meets James Joyce. The characters, even some very minor characters, are quite well presented. If you want a story where the protagonist faces adversity only to take heart and overcome, you might not want this book (but maybe you should read it anyway). The characters do change, but not in pat ways, instead in the ways people really change. The protagonist is often not very likeable, yet he is human and the beauty of his existence sporadically flashes through. I am nearly as far as it gets from being a Gen-Xer but I really liked this book. The narration more than does justice to the text, shouting and crying, mumbling and enunciating when the writing called for it.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
There are parts of this book I absolutely loved. There are also parts of it I definitely hated. I think Eggers' talent is obvious, his playfulness kinetic, his abilility to make his own grief/history both gruesome and beautiful by basically eating every experience and person surrounding him (disposal of his mom's ashes is a good example). Eventually his thinking about the thinking and thinking about the thinking about thinking kinda drove me a little nuts.
I do want to distinguish my own discomfort with this early Dave Eggers book from the current jealous-hipster backlash against Eggers. Yes, my hipster MFA people, Eggesr isn't Henry James, certainly, but still he manages to subvert the artificial separation between fiction and memoirs in aHWofSG. So, just admit that part of your animosity towards this book is that you didn't think of it, write it, or end up actually being able to make a living/achieve fame from a book you wrote in your twenties (same feelings that bubbles up whenever a Foer brother publishes something)
I'm also glad I waited to read/listen to this until Eggers had proven through McSweeney's, and his more recent books of nonfiction and fiction, that he wasnt just a gimmicky one-hit-wonder.
Oh, and Dion Graham's read of aHWofSG was kindof amazing.
25 of 27 people found this review helpful