A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers

dad embrac
Personally the character that stood out to me most was the dad. He only has a few scenes, and in the few scenes that do involve him, he’s not even home. Dave’s memories of his dad fixing things around at home, casually bantering with his kids makes his death so unfortunate. When the scene where Beth sees her dad kneeling on the street was first introduced, I thought that the weight of having to take care of a family and a dying wife was breaking him. He was outside of home, in a way free of his fatherly responsibilities, free to express his mental and emotional exhaustion without having to worry about the family seeing. But when the scene comes up a second time, Beth realizes that her father has been kneeling on the street for an unusually long time and runs out to get him, aware that he is actually falling, not kneeling. That statement “He is falling,” was really powerful and whether it happened physically (the father dies of cancer) or emotionally, it conjured an image of a man falling in a neverending abyss, surrounded by despair and weariness. It makes it all the more sad that the dad was so eager to meet death, that he was so happy to have gotten cancer, so quick to go, unwilling to talk to a pastor about the afterlife but extremely willing to get there. In a way the cancer gave him a welcome way out of his troubles that he had “no choice” but to follow. But as Les says, “He was the best driver I’d ever seen. So smooth… in control.”


Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark
in the hopeless swamps of the
not-quite, the
not-yet, and
the not-at-all.
Embrace it with both arms,
hug it, love it
and above all become passionate about it.

Ayn Rand, Roald Dahl