I’M NOT HUNGRY, BUT I COULD EAT: Stories
by Christopher Gonzalez
Santa Fe Writers Project. 115 pages, $14.95
Even before Covid, loneliness was a kind of pandemic. Reflecting how contemporary social forces have isolated many Millennials, the characters in Chris Gonzalez’ I’m Not Hungry, But I Could Eat are alienated from other people, unable to connect with friends and family members. Set in New York City and the Midwest, many of the stories in this collection center around eating and drinking as the characters’ lives fall apart. A shared plate of chicken fingers leads to a violent sexual encounter with a closeted bi man. A gay man pines for his unrequited high school crush while trying to hide his sexuality from their friends. After a night of heavy drinking during which he’s frustrated by his inability to express his feelings, he sends incriminating photos to the crush’s fiancée. Later in the evening, he’s punished by another schoolmate for past cruelty.
A queer Puerto Rican living in New York City, Gonzalez is a fiction editor at Barrelhouse magazine, and his short stories have been published in print and on-line magazines. In this book, he has created a set of bisexual protagonists who struggle with jobs, relationships, and conflicting desires. They desperately want friends and lovers, and they miss those no longer present in their lives, but they end up wreaking havoc on everyone around them. Yet even when they’re hurting others and themselves, there’s something about these struggling characters that makes a reader want to reach out to protect and befriend them. As he holds up a mirror to our lonely world, Gonzalez has mastered the art of telling melancholy stories in a gripping manner.