An Influence I Never Knew I Had

This month's selection A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers was recommended by the brilliant (she's a scientist, yo) and beautiful (have you seen her?) Rachael of in goodly colors gloriously arranged.

I knew I was going to enjoy this book before I even finished the acknowledgements.  Before launching into his full on assault of in your face prose, Eggers attempts to outline the major themes of the work. This act in itself made me chuckle, but also prepared me for what the next 300 pages had in store. One of the themes (well many, but this one in particular) struck me as incredibly intriguing.
The Easy and Unconvincing Nihilistic, Poseurism Re: full disclosure of one's secrets and pain, passing it off under a semi-high-minded guise when in fact the author is himself very private about many or most matters, though he sees the use in making certain facts and happenings public. (xxxi)
There Eggers perfectly articulates the tension it seems so, so many bloggers (including THIS blogger) constantly face when writing about oneself and one's life.  And not only does he hit the nail on the head, he does it in a self deprecating and humorous way.  Yep, I knew I was in for a ride.

I was immediately intrigued by Eggers' stream-of-consciousness writing style.  I'm a sucker for a narrator that talks to me, and Eggers had me from page one.  I ate up the awkward and apologetic way he brazenly over shared. Each time one of his friends or family members jumped out of character to criticize or challenge his motives I found myself even more invested.  There's something almost naughty about a book being aware that it IS a book.  I found it to be an incredibly effective storytelling tool.  Eggers refers to this as "gimmickry," but I found it to be totally endearing and intoxicating as a reader.

I saw in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius a precursor to the style of writing frequently found in today's blogs.  Tell me, can you be influenced by something you've never actually read? Because I believe that I (and many, MANY other bloggers) have been influenced by Eggers' style.  True, it's a memoir.  But, it's a calculated memoir.  The author has an image of himself that he is clearly trying to portray.  The veil is repeatedly lifted but only to manage the readers' perception of who he is as a person.  (perhaps I've just lifted my own veil a bit too high). Though despite his clear machinations, there was never, for me as a reader, a sense of distrust.  I never felt I was being manipulated maliciously.  Instead, probably because he is so forthcoming about it, I understood that he was messing with me.  It made me like both he and his book more because of it.

Truly, Eggers' story is heart wrenching.  The sheer drama of his life experience was enough to draw me in as a reader. However, what struck me more as I read the work was his writing style. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a book I won't soon forget and its stylistic influence will probably sneakily peek out of my writing for years to come.

For more reviews, check out The Daily Snapshot.
Once again, Charlotte is hosting the book club bloggers' monthly read and review!