three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
15-Mar-Apr-2005
By: 
Dave Eggers
user_rating: 
0

Stories

A-HowWeAreHungryThe 15 stories in this collection range from short writing exercises to a powerful tale of one woman’s climb up a mountain. In "After I was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned," a dog contemplates the importance of God and of staying hungry. "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water" continues the story of Hand, a character from the author’s first novel (You Shall Know Our Velocity, HHJ Jan/Feb 2003). If a few pieces, including "What It Means When a Crowd in a Faraway Nation Takes a Soldier Representing Your Own Nation, Shoots Him, Drags Him from His Vehicle and Then Mutilates Him in the Dust," offer titles with more breadth than the actual story contains, they all tread into our troubled times.
McSweeney’s . 240 pages. $22. ISBN: 1932416137

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"Following Eggers as he tap-dances across continents and genres is a bit like watching a spider walk sideways up a wall: He does things that should be impossible, and he does them gracefully. And all the while his web gets bigger and bigger." John Freeman

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"They are beautiful stories, anchored in the real world, with more bodies and objects than concepts or abstractions. There is a sense of human exuberance in the clean, swift language …" Joanna Rose

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"… mixed bag of a short-story collection. … Happily, there’s plenty in this collection to remind us that, for all his noodling around, Eggers is phenomenally talented—maybe uniquely so for such a young writer. His knack for humanizing the walking, talking demographics that are Generation X and Generation Y is on full display …" Jeff Turrentine

NY Times Book Review 2.5 of 5 Stars
"… yet another late-postmodern grab bag of secondhand gimmicks and tried-and-true tricks …. When [Eggers] dispenses with tongue-in-cheekiness and cute experimentalism, his prose is supple, transparent and surprising." A.O. Scott

Critical Summary

In this collection, Eggers (Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) is obviously straddling the line between being a writer—and a very talented one at that—and being the spokesman for the new age of self-conscious writing. Reviewers are unanimously unhappy with a few of his literary pranks here. "There Are Some Things He Should Keep to Himself," for example, offers up five blank pages. But when Eggers throws off our expectations and starts writing, he shines. His longer stories are original, witty, and truthful. As his characters search for transcendence, Eggers and his readers are right there with them.

Also by the Author

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000): At least we were on the bandwagon early—we loved this memoir.

You Shall Know Our Velocity (2002): 2.5 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2003. Two friends travel around the world trying to give away $38,000.