i recently read a heartbreaking work of staggering genius by dave eggers on the recommendation of my sister. she actually recommended it a long time ago when we were on some family vacation around 6 years ago, when i scoffed at the title. i was thinking, "that sounds like it was written by a pretentious douche. blah blah blah." my sister told me, "i think you'd relate with the author." i laughed in disgust. alas, my sister knew me better than i knew myself. she gave me reading after all.
but i was also right. after reading the book, the author comes off as a pretentious douche. except it is palatable because he is cognizant of his own douchery. and as i've come to terms of my own douchiness in spite of the fact that i champion the anti-douchebag cause like no other (that's for another entry), i realize that we are all douches, and we are all frail. self-awareness, however allows one to harness the pretentiousness (i think pretention would be a better word for the noun version of pretentious but it's not one for some reason) into something powerful emotionally, and see where we are coming from and why we feel what we feel.
there's nothing i can really say that hasn't already been covered by the many reviews i've been perusing over the web over the book, that the book starts out with a great canvas of the tragedies of egger's life, and then slowly moves along as he drags on about his life in san francisco, with little bits and pieces of wisdom here and there thrown in the mix. that when he writes, it's with an unashamed raw honesty that removes any shred of shame and bares it all so his secrets, as he says, would become less painful than if he were to contain them within himself, as cancerous, mutating things. (i'm paraphrasing.)
but what i can say that's unique to me is that i'm alarmingly like eggers. i say alarmingly because there's a whole lot of "us vs. them" mentality similar to what you find in salinger's "catcher in the rye". sometimes it's good to want to stand out, to be as eggers puts it, "I think if you're not self-obsessed, you're probably boring." but then it's one thing to be a dreamer and say all these idealistic types of things in theory, and another to offer any real viable practical solutions.
for me, it's been easy to acknowledge that i've been somewhat of a whiny bitch sometimes, but i use that sometimes as justification for continuing on doing so. it's fine to feel pain and to acknowledge that growing up is painful, and that the idiosyncrasies of society and its unwillingness to really be accepting and open can really be terrible to outsiders, people who's experiences they don't fully understand. but at some point, you have to "grow up" and face the fucking music, because life's not going to pass you any favors just because you go against the grain.
what makes the book unique for me is the raw emotion, unfiltered truth behind his thoughts, the knee-jerk reactions and impulses spewed out for every stimulus he encounters. pretentious as it may be, it is unequivocally truthful, and that to me is invaluable.