Tag Archives: Dave Eggers

387 Short Stories: Day 20: Story 20: Foley’s Pond by Peter Orner

9780544105508_p0_v1_s260x420 Title: Foley’s Pond
Author: Peter Orner
Taken from the Collection: The Best American Non Required Reading 2013

The story I read today was, “Foley’s Pond” by Peter Orner. The story first appeared in The Paris Review. I read it through my collection of, “The Best American Non Required Reading 2013”, edited by Dave Eggers. In this story, it is the pond, which is the protagonist. The story revolves around it.

The story starts with a child’s drowning in the pond. Barbara Zamost is two and a half years old and manages to slide under the fence of her house, which surrounds the pond, and drowns in it. Her older brother Nate blames himself for the drowning. The entire community is shattered by the incident and its children stop going to the pond. The pond is hazardous as well with a chemical plant right next to it. Ultimately, what happens to the pond is the crux of the story.

Of course the story was grim and a sad one at that. The description is just right and the reader is left with the sense of leading the story in his or her own direction, which again is a very gratifying experience.

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Book Review: How The Water Feels To The Fishes by Dave Eggers

How the Water Feels to the Fishes by Dave Eggers Title: How the Water Feels to the Fishes
Author: Dave Eggers
Publisher: McSweeney’s
ISBN: 9781932416824
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction
Pages: 63
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Dave Eggers has always been at the top of the list writers for me in the last decade. Everything I have ever read, which is written by him is simply fabulous. I mean, to put it simply, Eggers cannot go wrong with the written word. He has proved that time and again. I had bought this book a long time ago and got the chance to read it right now and once again was very glad that the month has started with something interesting. This one book is a part of three books. I just decided to read this one alone.

“How the Water feels to the Fishes” is a collection of very short stories – around thirty three of them and most of them are short and extremely interesting. They are centered on characters that are mostly lost and searching for a part of themselves. The stories are full of impact and that is what I loved about them – they need not be long to impress the reader, they can just be communicated with the intent with which they were written and it is all fine.

The characters in this book may seem like touch and go to begin with; however there are plenty of layers to them, which Eggers does not give away that easily. The reader has to work hard to understand every single one of them. Each story has its own life and takes its own course. I loved each and every story. From a boy whose face never gets clicked to the girl who wants a new journal, each story just shines with humanity, pathos and the reality of living. Eggers does not mince his words. He tells it like the way it is. A read not to be missed. Short, sweet and full of life and its ironies.

Here is one quick story from the collection:

She Needs a New Journal

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Book Review: A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers Title: A Hologram for a King
Author: Dave Eggers
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-0241145852
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Whatever Dave Eggers writes, I read. I read what he writes, because he is superb at the craft and knows what he is doing to a very large extent. I was first acquainted to his works when I picked up “’A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” on a lark and loved what I read. So much so that I would eagerly wait for his next release and lunge to the bookstore for it. This was way before Flipkart and it was a lot of fun. From that time on, Dave Eggers has been one of my favourite writers and he doesn’t disappoint at all.

“A Hologram for the King” is his latest offering and according to me it is one of his best works (barring A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). It is set in a rising Saudi Arabian city. Alan Clay, a consultant is trying to get his life back in order (after being a failed businessman), through a project in Jeddah. This is his last chance to turn his life around, pay for his daughter’s tuition fees, worry about his ex-wife and his health all rolled in one. He is waiting. For King Abdullah, in the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) so he can pitch the project to him and cut a deal and become what he wants to – successful. He is looking back at his life (past and present) throughout the book, waiting for things to change and life to turn around for him. That is the plot of the story. There are various characters that keep going in and out of the plot and in most ways are essential to the book, however I will not reveal that to you, for that I recommend you read the book.

“A Hologram for the King” is a sparse book. It is not detailed the way his other books have been, however I had no complaints while reading it. The sentences are simply put and yet the emotions behind them are layered and complex. No scene seems out of place and Eggers ensures that the reader is involved in the story for at least most of the book. Dave explains the steep economy of America and in explaining a part of Saudi Arabia, he tries to compare the situation with the rest of the world and the impacts a common man like Clay faces. There is a lot going on in the book. At most times, the book reminded of “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, given the situation – a common man waiting for things to change and life to take a turn back to how things were, and yet how difficult it is to do so.

The book is not depressing in the least. The writing if anything is only sarcastic and biting and yet manages to be emotional at most times. He takes the character of Alan Clay to another level – in making the readers see the desperate measures and the restraint, the allegorical levels in the book and the way the mind and the country can go to ruin (or so it seems from the writing) is beautifully expressed. At any point, I did not try to find happy moments in the book because I knew maybe that there wouldn’t be any. There are glimpses of hope nonetheless and before you know it, you are hooting for Alan and hoping that things work out for him.

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