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How We Are Hungry: Storiesby Dave Eggers
"Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a memoir full of practiced idiosyncrasy and contrived candor, revealed nothing so much as the author's X-rated affection for the sound of his own voice. His latest effort, the story collection How We Are Hungry (McSweeney's), is a far more temperate, generally melancholic affair. But in it a certain voice keeps popping up oddly: that of the irrepressibly manic memoirist." Jon Zobenica, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
Synopses & Reviews
How We Are Hungry is a gripping, lyrical, and always intensely soulful group of stories written over the past four years. Though they range from a doomed Irish setter's tales of running and jumping ("After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned") to a bitterly comic meditation on suicide and friendship ("Climbing to the Window, Pretending to Dance"), the stories share a haunting and haunted sense of mortality. Though full of bursts of levity and humor, the book is deeply informed by the troubled times in which it was written.
How We Are Hungry includes many never-before-published stories, along with a number of pieces that first appeared in magazines, both well known (Zoetrope, The New Yorker) and small and independent (h2s04, Ninth Letter). All previously published stories have been significantly revised. The urgency and experimentalism of Eggers's earlier work are still present, but are brought to a new level of precision and craft, injecting fresh life into traditional forms. Narratives are often linear, told by distinct and varied voices, and settings stretch from Egypt to Interstate 5.
"[T]hese tales reinvigorate that staid old form, the short story, with a jittery sense of adventure....Eggers' prose is fun, even when he is twisting a knife in your heart....He does things that should be impossible, and he does them gracefully." San Francisco Chronicle
"The 15 stories in Dave Eggers' handsome new collection...range from droll, plotless two-page stunts to long, haunting character-driven narratives. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"A return to creative form....As always, Eggers finds his place between outrageous humor and disastrous sadness....[His stories] don't quit resonating until long after the last sentence is finished." Newcity Chicago
"Its potential for inspiration and discussion, not to mention the nifty packaging, make How We Are Hungry a perfect book for a resolution-making time of year." The Philadelphia City Paper
"Eggers is most compelling when he's darting out on a stylistic limb....In his short work, he plays with format and content alike, and the results are as remarkable as they are intrepid." The Onion
"[A] lot of How We Are Hungry makes you wonder if [Eggers's] heart is still entirely in his writing....When he dispenses with tongue-in-cheekiness and cute experimentalism, his prose is supple, transparent and surprising..." A. O. Scott, The New York Times
"['Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly' is] a masterpiece...the narration is magisterial, without a false note....It may well be the last great twentieth-century short story." The Observer (London)
"It's [the] tension between our base and noble impulses, our so-called animal and refined natures, that gives How We Are Hungry its momentum and imparts to the best of its stories a rare and welcome grace." The Washington Post Book World
"'After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned' is a small tour de force that ratifies [Eggers's] ability to write about anything with style and vigor and genuine emotion." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"It's entertaining, and carries the reader along on a rush of story....One may not be able to reliably judge a book by its cover, but sometimes the cover is right. This one is rare-looking, and rich and important-looking. It looks like a classic." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and You Shall Know Our Velocity, presents his first collection of short stories. The characters are roaming, searching, and often struggling, and revelations do not always arrive on schedule. Precisely crafted and boldly experimental, How We Are Hungry simultaneously embraces and expands the boundaries of the short story.
How We Are Hungry collects 15 short stories written over the past four years. Many of the stories have been published before, and many are new. "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water," originally published in Zoetrope: All-Story, was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Fiction and was included in The Best American Magazine Writing 2004. Two of the stories in this collection — "Measuring the Jump" (now retitled) and "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water" — were recently named "Notables" in The Best American Short Stories 2004, edited by Lorrie Moore.
About the Author
Dave Eggers is the editor of the quarterly journal McSweeney's and of a yearly collection for younger readers, The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He edits that collection with high school students from 826 Valencia, the educational nonprofit he founded in 2002. 826 Valencia seeks to involve the community in after-school and in-school tutoring in English and writing. Eggers is currently at work on It Was Just Boys Walking, a biography of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee from Sudan now living in Atlanta; and Teachers Have It Easy, about the need for higher teacher salaries, coauthored with Ninive Calegari and Daniel Moulthrop. Eggers teaches writing at 826 Valencia and journalism at UC Berkeley¹s Graduate School of Journalism.
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