How We Are Hungry is a collection of short stories by acclaimed author, publisher and all-round over-achiever, Dave Eggers. Although to say Dave Eggers is an over-achiever is, somehow, an understatement. He became the custodian of his younger brother when he was still only 21, after his parents both passed away; his first book, a memoir, which describes the experience, went on to be a finalist for the Pulitzer prize; he started the independent publishing house McSweeney’s, which also pumps out a literary magazine every three months; he was the co-founder of the literacy project 826 Valencia (which is now worldwide); and he was the founder of ScholarMatch.
Now that we’re up to speed, you’ll probably understand why I realised it was high time that I actually read one of Egger’s book. Luckily for me, How We Are Hungry was at the book store for the low price of $10. Even better, it was an enticing, electrifying read, which says a lot, because I’m not usually a fan of short stories.
Some only a few pages long, some far longer, and one memorable story that is simply a few bare pages, How We Are Hungry is just the right side of eccentric: though it uses odd narrative devices, it changes from first to third person perspective, and it has a moral undertone that is reminiscent of a fairytale.
Often set in exotic locations, including Tanzania, Scotland and Costa Rica, my favourite part about the stories in How We Are Hungry is their ability to set the scene and encapsulate the feeling of a place in so few pages. Frequently, I feel as though I finish a short story without it ever starting, but this wasn’t the case in any of Dave Egger’s stories. Instead, in as little as 10 – 20 pages, I created a bond with the character, and what’s more, I felt saddened to leave the little world they’ve created (particularly in Costa Rica, because who wouldn’t want to be transported there?).
Overall, How We Are Hungry is an enticing glimpse into the imagination of Dave Eggers. With fluid, descriptive writing, How We Are Hungry has only encouraged me to read more of his work – particularly some of his longer pieces. Until then, I will simply have to feel like an underachiever (in more ways than one).
Have you heard of Dave Eggers? Have you read How We Are Hungry or any of his other stories? Let me know!