Two things need to be said about Dave Eggers’ collection of short stories, How We Are Hungry.
First, it is a beautiful book. Not just the words, or the typeface or anything, either. The used edition I found is hardcover with a black leather cover embossed with a gryphon and a few words on the spine. It has a black elastic ribbon to hold the book closed, and a pink ribbon to mark one’s page. I’m actually savoring the last couple of stories, just because it feels so good to carry this book around. It is stately.
Second, it’s just not fair– Eggers’ mastery of writing is breathtaking. In story after story, he introduces characters that are immediately interesting, believable, and compelling (even when they are dogs). Within several paragraphs, I feel as if I know these people, and I care deeply about how their lives would unfold. And when the stories are over, I’m invigorated, albeit sad to say goodbye. So from that perspective, a collection of Eggers’ short fiction is like a Schwarzenegger book on bodybuilding: there’s a lot of flexing, and you’re certainly impressed, but you get a little tired of feeling like you can’t keep up. The guy has some serious chops.