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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Views From the Boston Skye-line

When you sit down to read a book, be it a trashy romance novel, a thriller from some master of horror, a lighthearted comedy or a serious biography of some significant figure that interests you, you expect to be safe. I mean, after all, it’s just a story, right? Whatever tale the author spins for you on the seemingly endless wheel of the imagination, you know that it doesn’t affect your reality, except in the context of the moments you’ve spent reading it.

This is not so with Dave Eggers’ novel, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.” At first, I was drawn to this book on the bestseller shelf, purely because it had such an audacious title. Imagine the ego of such a person who felt this title was appropriate for his book. Refreshingly, ego doesn’t even enter into it. Dave Eggers successfully grabs the emotional collar of his readers on page one and drags them through the muddy turmoil of his mother’s battle with stomach cancer and the psychological and sociological bubble that surrounded him during her last few months of life.

Written in a raw, lemony style that at once engages and horrifies the reader, his story is one of love, painful endurance and surprising outcome. It doesn’t take the reader long to discover that this is a true story, although at first you don’t want to believe it. Those who have never been touched by suffering and death are immediately brought into the world of those who have and the emotions are very real.

However, this is not just a tale of dying, it is also one of living and carrying on despite the ghosts that haunt you. Shortly after his mother’s death and the subsequent death of his father, the author wanders through the events of his life starting with his role as a single parent (to his teenage brother) and magazine publisher to his attempt to get on the Real World cast, and all the in-betweens of being both twenty-something and an orphan. At one point, his “Might” magazine, a Generation X romp into the world as we see it, becomes the focus of the story. It contains many of the more humorous anecdotes to be found in this tale of the undiscovered norms.

Complete with a preface, a guide for enjoying the book, several quirky sketches of common objects, a 20-page acknowledgments section and an amusing mail-in offer, this novel is not without humor. By his own admission the book becomes “sorta uneven” after page 109, but Eggers’ narration of his life and his own questionable child-rearing strategies remain engaging. From tales of the bedtime reading of John Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” to his manic attempts to make his younger brother’s childhood far more entertaining than his own, Eggers reveals to us his own tremendous insecurities.

More than any other novel I’ve read recently, “A Heartbreaking Tale of Staggering Genius” integrates itself into your psyche, your very flesh and blood, and takes hold of you in a way that cannot be denied. You realize that all the skeletons in your closet come from the same place everyone else’s do. It’s the great big social closet in the sky.

Settle in this weekend with a copy of Dave Eggers’ book and slip into a café latte coma in your most comfy chair. I guarantee you’ll be glad you gathered the courage to share the experience of this singular view on what’s important.