Reviewed by Monique Prince, Undergraduate Services Librarian
If the title itself doesn't pull you in, take a glance at the "Rules and Suggestions for Enjoyment of this Book" ("The first three or four chapters are all some of you might want to bother with...The book thereafter is kind of uneven") and the lengthy and random Preface, Acknowledgements and Appendix. The middle content is actually quite amazing and entertaining as well. This is Eggers's memoir, written when he was in his late twenties and had already experienced more than many people two and three times his age. Before his senior year of college, both parents died of unrelated types of cancer within a few weeks of each other. That said, this is a surprisingly non-depressing book.
Dave becomes unofficial guardian of his eight-year-old brother, Toph, and together they move from the Chicago suburbs to Berkeley, California. The writing is so experimental and striking, and the content so varied, it is difficult to describe more of the plot so I'll just mention a few of my favorite situations described in the book: Eggers at school with Mr. T's children; early days of Might Magazine, which he founded; his near-miss getting on MTV's The Real World San Francisco--he was beaten out by Jed (who ends up working for Might Magazine, ironically); finally, in a later edition is a hilarious true story about him, his friends, and a whale in the San Francisco Bay. Today, Eggers edits McSweeney's (check out the Lists on the website), a literary journal and publishing house which he founded; he has also published a novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity (2002), a collection of short stories, How We Are Hungry (2004), and has edited various anthologies.
If you like this book, you may also books by consider less "heartbreaking" humorous nonfiction authors, such as David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day; Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim), Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation; Take the Cannoli), or Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods; In a Sunburned Country).