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How We Are Hungry: Stories Hardcover – October 26, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition edition (October 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932416137
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416138
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

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.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

From Booklist

In his first collection of short stories, Eggers shows himself to be, well, serious. Gone is the charming, smirky, self-conscious narrative voice that helped make A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (1999) so popular. Aside from the story "There Are Some Things He Should Keep to Himself," which consists of five blank pages, these short stories are unrelentingly sincere--sometimes too much so. Many of these stories feature Americans abroad--a man alone in Egypt, a woman (also alone) in Tanzania preparing to climb Kilimanjaro. In the collection's best story, "The Only Meaning of Oil-Wet Water," two old friends reunite in Costa Rica for a kind of loveless love affair. The accumulation of details--surfing together in the oil-wet water, an injured anteater in their hotel room--brings the story a haunting power. But some of the stories don't come together as well, and Eggers' fans may be disappointed that almost none crack a smile. Still, Eggers imagines emotionally and symbolically resonant scenes as well as any of his contemporaries, and this collection has several great ones. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," a nonfiction account a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina and "What Is the What," a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Dave Eggers is a great writer.
J. Stauffer
Sorry, Dave, but this was the last time for me...no more of your books on my list!
Jennifer Barger
This is an excellent collection of short stories.
Mary E. Sibley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dave Eggers first caught the world's attention with the semi-autobiographical "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." With the release of "How We Are Hungry," we get to see Eggers in a slightly new light -- these stories possess his usual postmodern skill and pensive intelligence, but lack the gentle humor and wit.

In this collection, Eggers examines various people who try to escape their difficulties, whether climbing mountains or roaming through rural Scotland. These people may be searching for love, for glory, for release, a burst of adrenaline in the desert, or for just a fling by the beach -- however, their problems and pasts will not go away.

Eggers does occasionally dip into gimmickry, such as "There Are Some Things He Should Keep to Himself." Don't expect much -- it's a few blank pages, which made me smile. But I feel a little cheated. He's at his best when he's unconsciously quirky, such as a cute conversation between God and the ocean in one short story.

Eggers has done well in his past novel and memoir, but some of the themes of "How We Are Hungry" feel worn -- this man has a unique writing talent, but writers have to grow, and this writing doesn't show his mind or soul growing. The themes have not changed, and that lack of movement and growth makes it feel like he's just... stuck.

That said, Eggers' writing is genuinely compelling and rich; in his rambly way, he's incredibly eloquent. His descriptions have a raw energy that can take your breath away, such as riding a horse in the desert. At the same time, he can wrap his characters in so much finely-drawn misery that it is difficult to not be moved by them.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. Bosiljevac on December 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eggers's first book, A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS, was amazing (although I've talked to several people about it and nobody can really remember what the story is about-it's just great style). His second book wasn't as fresh, mostly because the style was no longer new.

This, his third book, a collection of short stories, reads more like a collection of ideas that never grew up to be bigger. Some, only a page or two long, never even made it to short-storyhood. His writing is fantastic, but I felt like, for most of the stories, I was reading about him or someone he knows. The characters are interesting, but all tend to act and sound the same. His stories have a bit of desperate sadness to them, but they never really go anywhere. Sometimes this is nice. Other times it would be nice to go somewhere with these interesting people. I was a little disappointed that my favorite story in the book is one I read years ago in a short story anthology. It's a great story told from the point of view of a dog. Perhaps I'm being unfair to expect to be blown away by everything Eggar's writes, but there are so many fantastic lines, brilliant descriptions and details laced throughout his stories that I want the stories themselves to be as good.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By S. Schohn on November 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dave Eggers has always been too clever by half, and often that resulted in prose getting in the way of plot. Short stories, therefore, are the perfect medium for him, as he can dazzle with words without being bound to develop characters or advance a story (although the few longer stories in the book are surprisingly good). There's not a dud in the book; I'd love to see him publish another volume.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Avideyore on November 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Just when I thought I knew what to expect from the short story or from the yawn-inducing term "short story collection," Eggers's new book came along and blew me away. The stories vary in length (some are a paragraph) and location (Egypt, Costa Rica). Some have no words at all (that should keep you guessing). But each of them is full of invention and beauty, humor and concern, joy and hunger. You don't get the feeling when reading this book, as you do with other collections, that certain stories were inserted just to pad out the pages. Each one is a surprise and stands on its own as a beautiful object. And the collection raises the bar for other short story writers. My vote for the best collection of the year. Hands down.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Brown Bobbin Trey on November 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved the story I read from this collection in the Best Magazine Writing

of 2003 because the sentences were Nabokovian. Who knew surfing could be

described with sentences that make you want to cry? But reading this

collection I see that Dave Eggers is up to more than pretty sentences. His

stories are timely and, many of them, allegorical. They resemble George

Saunders's work in that they, too, create a mirror that reflects our human

condition and political situation more clearly than we were able to see it

before.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Freeman on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Firt off I must say that I am a huge Dave Egger's fan. I have all 37 of the collectible McDonald's steins when they were promoting "You Shall Know Our Velocity" -- I even have the one with Dave holding up his glowing finger like E.T. with the caption that reads BE GOOD. I was at the Lincoln memorial when he gave his I HAVE A DREAM speech (No, not Martin Luther King's speech but the other I HAVE A DREAM speech right after Dr. King's). I love Dave Egger's so much that I would marry him if only gay marriage were legal.

In "How We Are Hungry" Eggers makes us laugh, cry and hungry for his next book, article or world changing speech. But I found myself laughing more than I did crying when I read Hungry. It is true that some of the well crafted stories in this book touch at the sensitive points of global inequities. The story about climbing Kilimanjaro is nothing more than an allegory of Western progress resting on the back of Thrid-world labor.

But somewhere between the really well thought out stories in Hungry -- all either underscoring some moral flaw in the fabric of Western Culture or pinching some poignant nerve -- I found myself laughing at Dave's easily recognizable sense of humor. And this is why Eggers scores a four instead of five in my rating.

There appears to be an appearance of laziness or sloppyness in the preparation of his latest book. It must be considered that he was probably being inventive with the short shorts and the story that is not a story at all but just notes for a story. But I would say that there are about five really good stories in this book and the rest of the stories are Eggers exercising his wit in new ways or making us laugh in his old ways.

In short, Eggers succeeds in How We Are Hungry, but not in a staggering way.
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