Fat Books & Thin Women

Story Sundays: Dave Eggers’s “After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned”

Story Sundays is a weekly feature at Fat Books & Thin Women. Always short stories, always ones available online for free.

Dave Eggers’s “After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned” has to be one of the most perfect short stories ever written. I am writing as someone who has mixed feelings on Eggers, so you know I’m not saying that just because I drool over everything the man touches.

“After I Was Thrown” is about a dog, a fast-fast dog, and the way this is written – the sentences rushing past as fast as the dog says he can run, the pure joy of running – captures so well the feel of running and doginess. When I imagine how my dog would have thought, this is what I think of:

I love it I love it. I run to feel the cool air cool through my fur. I run to feel the cold water come from my eyes. I run to feel my jaw slacken and my tongue come loose and flap from the side of my mouth and I go and go and go my name is Steven.

Steven the dog goes runs races with other dogs through the woods. Squirrels comment on them in this weird chorus and there’s this divide between Steven and Edward, a dog who wants too much to win:

Edward is nudging me as I run. Edward is pushing me, bumping into me. All I want is to run but he is yelling and bumping me, trying to bite me. All I want is to run and then jump. I am telling him that if we both just run and jump without bumping or biting we will run faster and jump farther. We will be stronger and do more beautiful things.

Eggers nails the narration here, and the feel of things, but so much of what I love about this story comes at the end and I have to leave it for you. On top of everything else, “After I Was Thrown” has got one of the best/saddest closing lines ever.

Read “After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned”

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I’m intrigued. I think I’ll read this later today. Thanks!

Comment by Brenna

I have mixed feelings about this story. I think it might be because my dog is my everything and there are some disturbing things in it. At the same time, the voice of the dog is wise.

I don’t know. It’s really excellent and at the same time I kind of hate it.

Comment by Steph

what sort of things do you find disturbing? i guess i wouldn’t label this a “happy” story (actually, when I hit the end I always feel so sad, but that seemed kind of lame to write in a “review” – “this story makes me want to curl up in a ball on the floor and never get up”) but I’m curious about what you mean.

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

I love dogs, I would hate a sad ending. But this sounds so intriguing! And I adore a good short story.

Comment by Monica

Dave Eaggers is a very good story Writer,

Comment by Hamlet

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