Eggers anthology offers perfect prose — and pretention

Nick Anderman

Dave Eggers is suffering an identity crisis. His latest collection of short stories, titled “How We Are Hungry,” pits Eggers: the overtly self-aware, post-college, pop-culture hipster against Eggers: the guy who simply writes brilliant, searing prose. While both versions are convincing, the author is at his best when he stops playing cool and just puts text on the page. And Eggers’ best is nothing to scoff at — when he’s good, he’s breathtaking.

Take, for example “Another,” the first story in “How We Are Hungry.” Written in the first-person about a solo trip to Cairo and the ensuing horseback ride to the pyramids, Eggers’ narrative is dazzling and almost corporeal in effect. As the narrator comes to terms with his place in the world — on a horse, barreling through Egypt with a foreigner who speaks minimal English — we see the author wrestle with themes of globalization and national identity. He is not an overtly political writer by any means, but most of his best work deals with young Americans abroad, searching for something they can’t find at home.