Anyone who has had the pleasure of my company for any extended period of time knows that I am at heart a contrarian. Whenever I hear a statement of opinion (especially something that seems to represent conventional wisdom or accepted taste) my automatic reaction is to take the opposing side and try to poke a hole in the argument through whatever methods possible. Which means that I tend to get into pointlessly detailed and niggling arguments over points of questionable importance. Some people indulge me in this, and we have loads of fun. Most other (sane?) people just get annoyed by it.
This habit drives me towards sometimes controversial opinions on pop culture (Kill Bill is a boring movie, dammit), and makes me prone to reviews phrased in the form of "It's a good movie, despite all the people who say it's a good movie" (specific phrasing courtesy of The Hired Tongue, but I've had the approach for eons).
All of which is by way of mentioning that I recently read "A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius" by David Eggers, which is a book that is intentionally designed to drive people like me crazy. I mean, it's a good book, but as I read it I can't help but think "Well, that was sad, sure, but hardly heartbreaking," or "Genius is such a strong word...". It was compounded by the fact that Mr. Eggers goes out of his way to discuss this very point in his acknowledgments section (which is by far the most awesome part of the book). So now I can't figure out how far to recurse -- do I take the title at its word and form my opinion around how the book isn't as great as it says it is? Or do I take the self-mocking introduction at its word and think that it's actually a really decent book? Or do I take the fact that he says he's only pretending to be self-mocking and actually sort of feels that way and...
OK, so it's not really a big deal, and I feel maybe a little bit silly about it, but it was on my mind. I didn't get to the end of Infinite Jest and say "Hey, this book had an ending! What a ripoff!" I know people who seem to totally lack the irony gene, though; people who can drink a bottle of Arrogant Bastard beer and say that they don't like it, even though the back of the bottle says that they probably won't like it! What's up with that? How can people do that? I just don't get it.