Ron Swanson approved.
I am a huge fan of this writer. The precision with which he skewers our delusional clinging to the American Dream(tm) under monopoly capitalism is balanced by his compassion toward humanity in the jaws of the Beast. These stories are classics already, and only improve with re-reading.
What I liked about George Saunders’ short story collection Tenth of December is the aspiration in all the stories. All these characters are trying so hard to have a life that isn’t terrible, but they are stymied by the world and their delusions. In the right mood that makes the stories funny, in the righter mood that makes them terribly sad. All these people poised right on the teeth of capitalism, about to get ground up by the system in absurd ways. And sometimes they escape.
George Saunders is one of the most noteworthy writers of today. Saunders has an obvious passion for the art and craft of writing. Aspiring writers should pay attention to how Saunders develops voice, point of view, positions of power, prose rhythm, and character-- in addition to how tight his writing is (no bloviated narrative here!). Many of the short stories in this collection would be eternally useful texts to use in creative writing classes ("Victory Lap" is often used in such classes).
George Saunders may be of particular interest to fans of Tobias Wolff and Denis Johnson. As Saunders' writing is usually rich with controversial and disturbing subject matter, readers who prefer clean and wholesome writing probably won't have a fun time with this text. But for those who revel in hilarious takes on the absurd, complex, difficult, and alarming aspects of human life, this collection is a must-read.
If Kurt Vonnegut and Shirley Jackson had a literary baby, his name would be George Saunders. In this collection of short stories, the element of satire and the narration of innermost thoughts is reminiscent of Vonnegut. While, as in Jackson's stories, a dark undercurrent is often implied without being overtly stated. This is especially evident in "Exhortation", a tale of office memoranda run amok.
"Semplica Girl Diaries" is a story I believe will stick with me for years. It's a satire that prods at American consumerism, reminding us there are consequences both for ourselves and for exploited workers from elsewhere. Parents will groan in recognition at the over-the-top competitiveness of the birthday party circuit.
If you don't understand exactly what is happening on the first page of the first story, stay with it. It will become clear and you will be rewarded for your perseverance.
If you like only straightforward, plot-driven, one-action-follows-another narrative, this book is probably not for you. If you like to try something a little different, give George Saunders a chance.
"Tenth of December" by George Saunders was an OK collection of short stories. Of the ten stories, I liked 'Victory Lap' the best followed by 'The Semplica Girl Diaries' and 'The Chivalric Fiasco.' These last two were science fiction-lite. While not all the stories had sci-fi elements, when they were there they created an odd surrealism to the stories. Humourous, maybe, but I didn't find myself laughing. To me they were just OK stories.
Interesting, satirical, well written stories. Funny and not so funny.
Not quite up to its effusive praise, this collection of ten stories in nevertheless unique and funny but with substance.
Saunders rises to his usual level of genius with the best of these stories, though the collection is watered down with several weak entries. Still, he's at his best with "The Semplica Girl Diaries," a deeply disturbing banality-of-evil parody that addresses status insecurity, class divisions, exploitation of the weak, and objectification of humans in a startling and creepy fashion. Other top entries are "Escape from Spiderhead," about experimental manipulation and the nature of compassion, "Home," addressing the PTSD and anger or Iraq War veterans, and the title story, which provides a wholly unique path to averting a suicide attempt.
We would love to have this book at Battery Park City library!
2 Copies please
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