Review of a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Review of a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, with its unique style that attracts the attention of the reader from the very beginning is a good example of self reflexive fiction. Self reflexive fiction, improving and changing from the time of Tristram Shandy has found a new life at the hands of Dave Eggers. He offers the reader to take an active role in his reading. ?The Rules and Suggestions for Enjoyment of This Book? section addresses directly to the reader saying ?if you have already read the preface and wish you had not, we apologize?or he begins the second part saying ?Please look. Can you see us??At the end, the book becomes very much self reflexive as he addresses to the millions who are reading him in nearly two full pages. When readers have a bigger role in the novel, the work becomes more meaningful to the reader rather than forgetting it after he reads the last page. It is a fact that ?the reader can be fascinated either by the tale only or by the telling of the tale, which keeps him inside the fiction.? In this book we are fascinated by both the tale and the way Eggers tells his story. He is the author, the protagonist and also the narrator of the story. He uses irony, playfullness and digression. It can be said that this way of writing is ?a complete mess, disorder, deliberate chaos, fragmentation and dislocation? but those factors interestingly make the story unified and complete. By using these new properties of fiction, he brings together the fragments and forms a nice story. For example, while he is telling about their ride in the car, he suddenly begins to visualize their being driven off the cliff and and down into the ocean. He usually uses fragments and frames like this.
In the book there is always a relationship between ?play? and ?reality.? Just like other metafictional works, in ahwosg the narrative constantly deviates from linear movement, which is called ?the leap frog? technique. He suddenly begins to talk about some ideas that cross his mind or a dialogue begins, changing the linear movement of the story. But life, just like metafictional novels is also constructed through frames and many things happen one after another rather than the artificial novels which only talk about one aspect of our experiences in a strict order. But not every person can reflect his complex experiences and ideas in a unity as nicely as Eggers does. Eggers, in his book writes about what he experiences physically and mentally so naturally, juxtaposing the two different kinds of experiences and this way the reader ?lives? the story more than just reading it. For example, if he is thinking about something else, when he is talking to someone, he directly writes about his thoughts just after giving the dialogue between them. He alters the frames so suddenly and this is called the deconstructive method of metafiction. With these shifts, the reader?s ideas about the reality change constantly. There are multiple realities and they are related to each other. Eggers always sticks to realism but in some parts, we see his attempts to be fictionalized when he says ?Give me something. I promise I will be good. I will be sad and hopeful. Please see this! I am the common multiplier for 47 million? Give me a platform!? during his interview to take part in the mtv production.

Metafiction writers generally use signs and symbols to be found out by the readers in order to be understood better. Eggers also uses the same technique a bit ironically by giving a whole list of symbols and showing what they refer to at the beginning of the novel.

His story contains its own theory and even its own criticism. The characters like Toph and John make some criticisms during the story saying that they do not want to be a part of the story anymore. As we see on page 423, John says "I mean, how much do you really care about me, outside of my usefulness as some kind of cautionary tale, a stand-in for someone else, for your dad, for those people who disappoint you? You do not really
care so much about the people who just get along and do fine, do you? Those people do not make it into the story, do they?"

It is argued that ?the new fiction writers place themselves in front or inside their own texts in order to question the act of writing fiction, even at the risk of alienating the reader.? Metafictional works attract the attention of the reader with their unusual experiments in narration and construction, but at the same time, self reflexive writers are criticized by abandoning realism so much and preventing the reader from identifying himself with the characters of fiction. But Eggers accomplishes to put himself in the story and also does not forget to give the reader an active role, keeping their attention alive, referring to them directly in specific points. We, as readers can always identify ourselves with the characters as the story he tells is not that much extraordinary and he says at the beginning that he tries to tell his own life story as he lacks the creativity to invent a new one.

The techniques he uses are interesting like the parts that he puts at the beginning talking about what to do to enjoy the book, the dialogues, the pictures of the house showing where he slides with his socks, the interview and the fast shifts to his imaginative world. He uses the openness and flexibility of metafiction but these facts do not distort the coherence and the unity so the reader does not have much difficulty in grabbing the story. Dialogues take the story closer to reality. He explores a theory of fiction through the practice of writing fiction. He uses language as ?a link to the world of fiction and the world outside fiction.? That is exactly what the metafictional writers wanted to do to establish an identity and validity for novels. They turned inwards to their own medium of expression to examine the relationship between fictional form and social reality. The authors of metafiction re-examine the conventions of realism to discover a fictional form which can be easily understood by readers. It is a reflection, a reconstruction of the reality of our everyday lives.

Eggers? novel also does not have a beginning or a specific end. ?It is just a moment to look back or ahead.? It begins at home and ends while he and Toph are playing frisbee at the beach.

The main rule of the self-reflexive narratives is the absurd and the arbitrary. There is black humor and irony and at the end, stories usually do not give a real message, there may not be an order or resolution but it is just a reflection of life just as it is.

I enjoyed reading the book and found his style very inventive and natural. It was reading a great representation of ?life.? He knows how to create ?heart breaking stiuations? and make the reader feel sad when reading about his mother?s illness or his problems with his parents at home and then make us laugh out loud in some parts like showing the 8 different meals he and Toph eat. He does not hesitate to show his flaws and writes whatever he thinks about in certain situations. The book reminded me of Salinger?s Catcher in the Rye, which I have read with great enthusiasm in high school. I have found the same naturality and the flow of language in this book. They both use the the ?stream of consciousness? technique to make their stories more vivid and it is really very hard to close the book and take a break once you start reading. As a reader, it is nice to see creative ideas like the unique title, the rules and suggestions for the enjoyment of the book at the beginning or the drawings in the book that show their sliding place with their socks at home. His approach to the reader is very cordial and from the very beginning, you become impatient to read the coming pages and find out the new innovations in his style. Obviously Eggers does not disappoint the reader and does his best to make the reader put the book in his top ten list without thinking much just after he finishes the book. It is exactly a ?Heartbreaking work of staggering genius, Eggers.?

Review of a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 9.2 of 10 on the basis of 2511 Review.