How We are Hungry

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Dan, Jun 5, 2005.

  1. Dan

    Dan Senior Member

    Aug 28, 2003
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    Aiken, SC
    This is Dave Eggers' new book of short stories. Eggers is able to change up his style while still keeping it familiarly his own. What distinguishes this from his other works (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity!) is that this work relies more heavily on the symbolism of nature. Nearly every extended story finds nature playing an important role, sometimes in very unique ways (one story includes a conversation between an ocean and some clouds, one story is a first-person narrative from the point of view of a dog). As the title suggests, the book is mainly inhabited by characters who are, in one way or another, hungry for more out of life (some want to climb the tallest mountain in the world, some want to stop being the person who has to go console a childhood friend after another failed suicide attempt). Only once did Eggers' avante-garde nature become tiresome, in the story titled "There Are Some Things He Should Keep to Himself", which consists of five blank pages. It's a decent idea, but it's hard not to think of it as simply filler in a book that barely pushes 200 pages, and ultimately it feels more like a gimmick than an artistic statement. More than half the stories are less than two pages long, mostly brief character studies, and obviously these don't have the impact that the others do, save for two: "When They Learned to Yelp", which for some reason really resonated for me, and "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." (which can be read here), which reflected my feelings on much of the Iraqi war way more eloquently than I probably ever could.

    Eggers is sort of a love-him-or-hate-him type of author, and this book won't change anyone's mind about that, but if you're into him, or just postmodern writing in general, it's definitely worth checking out. Also, he published the book through McSweeney's, his own publishing house, and a major part of the money the book makes is going to fund the children's writing workshops he opened in San Francisco and New York.

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