Quick book thought

Apparently I’m verbose and self-indulgent (disregarding the fact that the internet has near-infinite storage capacity [or that a blog, by definition, is one of the most self-indulgent forms of expression]), so I thought I’d offer a quick take on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

I’m not going to post anything here that you could find elsewhere, but I will say that I was a little underwhelmed. Eggers uses a lot of stream of conciousness writing and textural effects to augment his story. I thought that his use of effects were a little (exuse the irony) self-indulgent. I just didn’t get the feeling that they were essential to the telling of this particular story in the same way as, say, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Also, stream of conciousness is a technique. It is not an excuse to be lazy with word choice and craft. I recently finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Prisig. In some ways, these two books are similar. They are both stream of consciousness and they both involve the interactions between a guardian and his charge, a person not yet a man but not quite a boy.
In Zen, even though the words were unstructured and flowed in a stream, every word, every thought felt essential. Heartbreaking felt flabby and like it could use a better editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *