''A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius'' is the new postmodern blockbuster

By Troy Patterson
Updated December 22, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

This is the first sentence of a sharp little piece about Dave Eggers. We mean to butter you up with our snarky mimicry of the guy behind the memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and the literary journal/upstart publishing house/cult of personality McSweeney’s. Self-conscious, self-mocking, and self-abusing, A.H.W.O.S.G. details how the author lost his parents to cancer, raised his kid brother, auditioned for MTV’s The Real World, and founded the dearly departed satirical ‘zine Might. Its protagonist is as crassly exhibitionistic as any hootchie on Ricki Lake, yet he’s also a stylish cynic who sneers at celebrity culture. Which leaves you, dear reader, with a postmodern blockbuster, a tale for an accelerated culture starring the smirking author as The Voice of His Generation. Isn’t it ironic?