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[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

August 12, 2005
Rating: 7.5/10

Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and You Shall Know Our Velocity and editor of popular literary journal, McSweeney's, conveys a fairly far-reaching collection of ideas in How We Are Hungry. His quirky style is consistently surprising, and his writing has grown more confident since the somewhat self-indulgent A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius earned him such mixed reactions.

You Shall Know Our Velocity represented a positive progression for Eggers, having gotten A Heartbreaking Work off his chest. Although it was a comparatively light read it managed to delve into the logistics of dealing with the problems, inner as well as external, that a Westerner of Eggers's demographic might face when embarking upon a journey around the world, and although such issues are brushed upon, the story avoided getting bogged down in them, and instead it flowed with suitable humour. While How We Are Hungry, a collection of 15 short stories, may act as a bridge and taster for Eggers's impending full volume work, it has the sharpness, unpredictability and variation to stand on its own and make for an enjoyable and diverse read.

His stories range in length from one lone to 60-odd pages, embracing a range of settings and moods. In a similar fashion to You Shall Know Our Velocity, they commonly deal with the way by which individuals in contemporary settings confront problems, some tragic, others ironic. Given the nature of Eggers's stories - his style is descriptive, sometimes to the point of excess - he manages to convey his characters with a stark attention to detail; the emotions experienced by a young 'fairweather' couple in "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Weather," and by a lady whose Kilimanjaro climbing adventure is documented in "Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly," are effortlessly portrayed and full of life.

"Notes for a Story of a Man Who Will Not Die Alone," which is tellingly expressed as an arrangement of notes involving the unusual prospect of a 'death ceremony,' demonstrates Eggers's flirtation with conceptual absurdity. This absurdity is extended to self-mockery with the tale of "There are Some Things He Should Keep to Himself," which, being nothing more than a few blank pages, will inevitably be critically condemned as overly conceited. Fortunately for Eggers, the literary world is becoming progressively acquainted with the subtly eccentric perspective from which he writes, and he can be confident that every remark that points to the awkwardness of his style will be counter-balanced by those drawn in by its charm.

Despite the charm of his spontaneity, Eggers's randomness is doubtlessly excessive, and can prove unnecessarily tiresome at times. He often uses sentences that do little but upset the flow of the story: "She wanted to rub herself in bananas. She wanted to open umbrellas into the faces of cats, make them scurry and scream." Over and above distracting the reader from his point, Eggers cannot help but sound forced at such moments.

While some may find Eggers's clumsy humour surplus to requirement, it does serve to allow his stories ample breathing space. His transparent use of abstract similes nevertheless demands harnessing, and doing so would elevate his work from unsystematically-written reactions to modernity to cohesive abstract masterpieces. While cultivating the quirks that have to this point defined him may involve a suitable amount of pride-swallowing, I'm certain that, when the time comes, it will be worth it.

SEE ALSO: www.mcsweeneys.net/

--
Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other articles by Mike Wright.

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