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Short Short Stories (Pocket Penguins) by…
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Short Short Stories (Pocket Penguins)

by Dave Eggers

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Similar to the only other book I read by the Author the stories sometimes are very self conscious and I didn't like that. There were two that entirely lacked content and were basically just a bit of outrage at the reelection of Bush. But they weren't opinion pieces either, just a bit of babble. I don't know, I just don't really like Dave Egger's work (Concertina8 is going to give me grief for that; )
  verenka | Jun 17, 2010 |
I've been away from Eggers for a while now--two thirds of a year, I'm sure, it was ago, when I had read How We Are Hungry and came away with mixed feelings, most disappointment centered around the 2-page stories I felt were a waste of space entirely. Now here's a 55-page book made up of only 2- or 3-page (and in one case it extends to 4-!) stories (that, I will now add out of absolute necessity cost me $2 at a Half-Price Books location in Austin, Texas, where I attempted to haggle with the jackass behind the counter because I'm such a frugal fruitcake in a not-very-epic [supporting] "struggle" against the HPB empire's slow choice to start marking every single item up above what their store's title suggests they sell so I always am forced to ask politely for a discount [which usually will work] and say to this cashier "Please! sir! I'm poor!" and he chuckles [with menace!] and repeats what I asked for loudly enough for work-mates and customers to hear and throws in my face that no damn way would he be giving me any discount! no sir! and I for some reason grab this and say "This! it's new! and priced above or about equal to because I don't know shit about the conversion rate here, it being originally £1.50 and marked as $1.98, the original price!" and he does his little Amazon search and gives me one more humiliating verbal slaughter that will be left to your, the reader's, imagination, bringing up that it's no longer in print [it never was here in America] and look there! it's going used for $70! and I secretly knew this already so you see what a chump I am trying to save as much money as I possibly can, and I feel I can't respond intelligently to this news, say "Uhh," and accept my defeat and pay the entire $2. Prick).

It works out well here. Eggers' writing is refreshing. I always go out of my way to describe him as "honest" to friends. That's the word that keeps getting repeated in my head over and over after I read each page and mutter "Wow, what honesty" et cetera et cetera. His characters and their incidental and really fucked up thoughts that are shared that we all have and don't mention to one another in order to dodge being wrongly labeled a stalker or a homosexual; the example that most often comes to my mind is from You Shall Know Our Velocity!, where the narrator (what was his name?) shares his childhood thoughts on the daily chore of pooping. You guys all remember, when you were kids, right? how you'd imagine bugs flying up your cold and quivering sphincter between those mountainous cheeks casting ominous shadows over bowled, stinking waves? It crossed all our minds at one time or another.

Another example, actually from this collection, is the first two-pager, located on pages 1 and 2, "You Know How to Spell Elijah," which has a young man, Eggers, the author, you and me and every reader too, chilling at an airport, eavesdropping on a family conversation: a girl asks her parents how to spell the first name of Elijah Woods for a crossword puzzle. Neither one has a clue--or, they do, but they both assuredly give the incorrect spelling (E-L-I-S-H-A and A-L-I-G-A), and the author and/or reader want desperately to confront the family, telling them god damn it, it is E-L-I-J-A-H, come on, please. Seriously. But then it crosses your mind that if you did help, it'd appear that you were paying too much attention to their private conversation, to this little girl's crossword puzzle, or too much interest in Teen magazine or something equally horrifying.

Despite the awesomeness of many stories, and Eggers' captivating voice and personality, there is still a bit of mediocrity to be found. Many, many stories--and I'm not necessarily saying this ruins the collection, or that the stories that feel this way (coming up!) are actually bad--feel more like exercises in writing. As if Eggers sat down, wrote out a random sentence, and let it flow from him for a page just for practice, with no intention to ever actually publish it or edit it. I wonder how much editing Eggers does. I'd guess he hardly needs any. Oh, Eggers.

If you can find this for two dollars, I recommend grabbing it. I don't know how far I'd recommend to going for this if you're an obsessive Eggers fangirl; I hear Eggers' 2007 contribution to One Hundred and Forty-Five Stories in a Small Box, titled How the Water Feels to the Fishes, still available to purchase on Internets everywhere, is the exact same book, but while I briefly owned that before giving it away as a birthday present to a family member, I glanced through their respective tables of contents and they didn't seem to be much alike at all, except the title story of Fishes is featured in here with a slightly different title.

This isn't much of a review.

F.V.: 80%

[71!] ( )
4 vote rickyrickyricky | May 30, 2008 |
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