George Saunders ê 1 SUMMARYMan this little guyI can t fault it a single sentence Every story in this tiny collection made me want to high five the author with one hand and cradle my hanging head in the other Maybe I was a bit hard on his later Pastoralia because I needed to warm up to Saunders maybe my head was just in the The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone right space this time around or perhaps thiseally is the superior group of stories Whatever magical trippydippy cosmos aligning parade of fck yeah was going on I dug the expletive deleted outta this thing To start the New Year off in tune with my hangover bluuuuues I couldn t have asked for a appropriate tone than Saunders bomb crater soul with somehow but barely still beating heart nihilistic we Bright College Years: Inside the American Campus Today re all screwed so let s laughness Then again I m in one of those moods where I would kinda fancy taking a slingshot and a pocket full of acorns into a public suare and firing atandom You may think he needs to lighten up I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak his dumb his fat his lazy I believe he takes pleasure in his perfect creatures and cheers them on like a brainless dad as they un oughshod over the est of us He gives us a desire to be liked and personal attributes that make us utterly unlikable Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications he deducts the difference between what we have and what we need from our hearts and our self esteem and our mental health Oh HEYALL yeah I wanna marry those words and knock em up with like sixteen babies Then in typical Saunders hates Capitalism fashion there s this next uote concerning a Civil War eenactor who is out of nowhere and to his dismay tasked with the duty of firing live Histoire de F�nelon, Archev�que de Cambrai, Vol. 1: Compos�e Sur Les Manuscrits Originaux (Classic Reprint) rounds at the pesky youth gangs that have been intruding on and defacing the park where he works I m an actor uinn says uinn s got kids I say He knows the value of a buckThis is acting of the highest stripe Mr A says Act like a mercenaryBuddy you just said a mouthful I already knew liked the title track so I skipped to the big novella Bounty and thought hello hello this is like a Motown follow up where say Reach Out I ll be There was followed up by Standing in the Shadows of Love which is like the same song tweaked a bit but still great or I Can t Help Myself followed up by It s the Same Old Song whicheally is how daringly blatant they were I thought this was a short story collection but it s like a Contemporary Film Theory rock opera where the stories inhabit the same world you know like Tommy so I shouldaead the blurb Set in a dystopian near future in which America has become little than a theme park in terminal disrepairWell sugar pie honey George it s the same old joke Alright because George is uite brilliant it s a firework display of many similar jokes But anyways not a patch on Tenth of December George s latest collection which got the P Bryant Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval presented in a short but tasteful ceremony in Pirates Park Waldeck Road Sherwood in May 2013 Mr Saunders sent a hologram of himself to accept the award and it was just so moving I had to Tagalog English Dictionary retire behind a large child to throw upBest story worth getting this 2nd hand for The 400 Pound CEO Poor George Saunders must have had aeal eal bad theme park experience in his youth This collection of stories makes the dystopia of Zombieland seem sedate I love Saunders take on American consumption and the way he is able to shove values and virtues of 20th century America into a funky future that makes all our virtues absurd and makes this anti utopia seem closer than you might have previously imagined What a degraded cosmos We live in a world where cruelty towards others is becoming and accepted how easy we ationalize our self Baby Elephant Gets Lost righteous anger against someone who cut us off brought us an undercooked meal said something stupid etc and even seen as funny Saunders like the ghost of Christmas future would like to show us where that is leading us Civilwarland In Bad Decline his first collection of stories paints a grim portrait of a near future filled with everything from economic collapse murderous CEO s moral degradation on a mass scale and a world dominated or enslaved by theich callous and self absorbed His satire which manages to extract a comedic flair from all the foreboding gloom cuts to the core of our morality Saunders presents us with the inner thoughts of the poor and the meek the dregs of a future society not that unlike our own as he cautions us against our mistreatment of others and the self important beliefs that drive us to sidestep our moralityGeorge Saunders thinks we are all assholes and he is probably 100 Themes de Conversation en Francais right While we feel safety in our knowledge that each story isemoved from our own eality the creeping dread at seeing our own world our actions or those of people we know elevated to such apocalyptic proportions is frightening In nearly every story the economy has driven us to a state where the wealthy dominate and all others are mere chattel disposable employees who suffer horrific treatment just to scrape by We see people pushed through degrading drudgery just to survive dehumanized enslaved and laughed at and we see #those who have isen above it only looking down with mirthful scorn Each # who have isen above it only looking down with mirthful scorn Each is just a pawn in everyone else s game It is this self centered view that led the world to such a predicament Dad said she should try to understand that other people even ignorant people even poor people loved
their children every bit as much as shechildren every bit as much as she hers Tell me something I don t know she said The point is I don t love their kids as much as I love mine Immanuel Kant s first Categorical Imperative states that Act only on the maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law Through his stories Saunders argues that if we all look out only for ourselves if we all ignore the needs of others then we are doomed to this degradation of moral ethical and economic standards The 400lb CEO is a ipe example of our cruelty towards others as the Street-Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties reader witnesses the inner turmoil of a good man albeit an obese man as he clings to his morality while beleaguered by insults and jokes at his weight his coworkers openly mock him to his face with no thought to how it might affect him This instills a tragic belief that perfectly captures the essence of Saunders message I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak his dumb his fat his lazy I believe he takes pleasure in his perfect creatures and cheers them on like a brainless dad as theyun The Back House Ghosts roughshod over theest of us He gives us a desire to be liked and personal attributes that make us utterly unlikable Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications he deducts the difference between what we have and what we need from our hearts and our self esteem and our mental health There is no end to the Haven: A Graphic Novel rationalizations made to gloss over the difficult truths of moral depravity Much like the darkly comedic works of Flannery O Connor Saunders depicts obdurate morally corrupt characters who cling to theireligion What terrible atrocities we can commit with God on our side Money is another scapegoat as in the title story where even murder seems less Physical Basis of the Direction of Time, The. the Frontiers Collection. repugnant than bankruptcy and lowly employees are pressured into terrible situations in order to feed their families There is no arguing against those in power and exposing their depravity or fighting against it can only lead one to being suashed by the corporate gears as in Downtrodden Mary Some people truly are above the laws It is the wicked thatule the world and the good that are haunted by the ghosts of the slaughter Those with a good moral compass always get crushed in his worlds and often they are The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction ridiculed or hated because of their honest and good beliefs The ability to feel to empathize to pity open one up to the cold hateful aim of those whose hearts are so calloused and buried in filth and selfighteousness that they can t care for anyone aside from themselvesSaunders wants us to treat each other with My Honorable Brother: A Thriller respect to keep an open mind and open heart In his violent visions we see theesults of our acceptance of picking on the nerds the physically less fortunate the weak and the dumb In the wonderful and wonderfully terrifying novella Bounty those with any deformity the Flawed are enslaved and dehumanized While Saunders uses the parallels of pre Civil War American slavery to flesh out the novella as well as using acism to fuel the plot of the Ralph Ellison esk Isabelle the effect is than just putting a new spin on a traditional literary examination Saunders e examines the past to portend the future and extends the horrors encompass us all instead of stopping at boundaries of ace creed or gender The world damns the Flawed yet as pointed out by an elderly Flawed there s not a person on this earth who s not Flawed in one way or another While we may excel in one area we all have our deficiencies even if they are not visibleIn each story the world is headed in a terrible direction that is for the most part seen as irreversible Saunders is looking to us those in the present to course correct in order to avoid such a grim future His futures however aren t that dissimilar from our present In nearly every story which is a bit of a point of contention for me the narrator. This is an alternate cover edition for ISBN 1573225797Funny sad bleak weird toxic the future of America as the Free Market uns ampant the environment skids in. .
Works in a theme park like esort where wealthy patrons can experience a simulated pure natural world often one of times past While this is fitting with a world where everything is collapsing polluted and destroyed it isn t much different from our present as we escape the world around us for virtual worlds We live through our online selves we escape our world to other worlds such as seeking solace in times past through video games and movies These terrible bosses and evil corporate empires are all around us and the mistreatment and fear mongering that keeps workers in line happens each and every day Having just escaped a factory where it is clear that employees are not people a place where nobody is concerned that the employees move about in thick clouds of aluminum dust or use cancerous chemicals without masks or ventilation a place where employees work 60 80hr weeks and have no say in anything no ights hope of aises are dismissed at a whim Ola Shakes It Up ridiculed a place that is perfectly legal and accepted by society yet maddening and deadly to work in this is the sort of place that Saunders satirizes without having to jump too far I apologize for this aside I don t intend it as any woe is me but to share the eye opening experience I had of how places like in The Jungle still exist today As in Cormac McCarthy Saunders shows how just because you can do something doesn t make itight Just because you have the power over another life you should not kill it smite it idicule it enslave it or abuse it in any way Laws or social acceptance may be in your favor but it still isn t ight and makes you a monster We must be good to one another in order for the world to flourishThis collection is a joy to Einatmen, Ausatmen read It is witty downright hilarious at times while uncomfortable at others and presents aeally positive message despite dragging the eader through a world of muck to get there I eally hope Saunders continues writing for a long time to come and goes down as one of the great literary satirists The writing is crisp and carries a strong forward momentum and Saunders comes euipped with enough techniues such as his slight changes in dialogue presentation and his character s lexicon to disguise that each character all of them told in first person have a very similar cadence and voice While it has a few Lightfoot the Historian: The Nature and Role of History in the Life and Thought of J.B. Lightfoot (1828-1884) as Churchman and Scholar rough patches the collection still manages to soar with its comedy and dark visions455 Seeing someone do something that s not patently selfish and fucked up is like a breath of fresh air good clean fresh air not that any one of us would know good clean fresh air is a vial of it swooped down and bit us on the ass Slavery is not the only idea dredged up Saunders use of economical collapse sets each story in a world where it isn t all that surprising that people would bond together against what they fear In High School we all had to examine how ordinary people could commit terrible atrocities such as the Nazis and the holocaust etc I apologize for the Reductio ad Hitlerum here but it is necessary allowing economic pressure and mob mentality toationalize and assuage any moral ualms against even the most despicable of actions In Bounty it is a similar circumstance that allows people to view the Flawed as less than human and to not bat an eye at the Flawed s horrific mistreatment Welcome to the OccupationThe whole way through George Saunders first collection of short stories there are suggestions that the world is not as it should beImagine a world like this totally unlike our ownThe characters and narrators are or are surrounded by kooks and wackos People have names like Shirleen and Melvin Where there were once cornfields and flood plains there are now parking stations and theme parks Gangs invade civil war e enactments All dreams are defiled All entertainment is simulated Muzak eigns All other music is lip synched All consumer items are fake or synthetic All advertising is misleading All flavouring is artificial Outside homes are suspended signs saying Homogeneity Sweet Homogeneity A Randian Bountytown welcomes you with the greeting Where merit is king and so are you Success in the community means you ve been inducted into Rotary God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak his dumb his fat his lazy Designer verisimilitude is de igueur Memories are shmemories Errant fathers are passive flakes miluetoasts and yes men who leave their families behind and marry floozies Even Dear John letters are forged People are either Normal or Flawed special or mutant possessed or dispossessed There is no longer any innocence only guilt Sincerity is a thing of the past Authenticity has disappeared into thin air and survives only as a ghost or a umour My Torn and Black Heart RebelsSaunders narrators believe they have to do something about it the world needs to be Dahmer Detective: The Interrogation and Investigation That Shocked The World rectified Having lost what was to be lost my torn and black heartebelsenough already enough this is as low as I goUnderstandably they have to start at the bottom Learn to enjoy what little you have Revel in the fact that your dignity hasn t yet been stripped awayFor all the satirical intent and comic effect these stories
of ebellion have a heart of gold They live and breathe pure empathy Everyone you ve ever loved you ve treatedrebellion have a heart of gold They live and breathe pure empathy Everyone you ve ever loved you ve treated goldThe door of happiness swings open for the selfless I look after her and she sueals with delight when I come home and the sum total of sadness in the world is less than it would have beenThis is the eal thingGeorge Saunders and Mark TwainSOUNDTRACKview spoilerThe Chills The
#MALE MONSTER FROM THE ID WELCOME #Monster from the Id Welcome the OccupationSugar cane and coffee cupCopper steel and cattleAn annotated historyThe forest for the fireWhere we open up the floodgatesFreedom eigns supremeFire on the hemisphere belowGenevi ve Toupin Heart of Gold Neil Young Morris The Real Thing Chills Part Past Part Fiction Brother Million Dollar Bill Brother Million Dollar Bill KXT 917 and ArtSeek Present On the Road Star Fade Into You Live on Late Night with Conan O Brien Day I ll Keep It with Mine Bob Dylan Hoffs and Matthew Sweet A Different Drum Taste the Ceiling Live at Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago on July 17 2015 hide spoiler The past couple of months two activities have dominated my leisure time eading and watching NBA hoops After The Scruffy Drunk: The Wife in Space, Volume 2 reading CivilWarLand in Bad Decline I waseminded of a hoops argument that I think should carry over to modern literature as well The argument has to deal with the unceasing *uest for the so called next Michael Jordan Michael Jordan was *for the so called next Michael Jordan Michael Jordan was transcendent athlete if not public figure of my childhood There are a generation of kids who still drink Gatorade buy Nikes and wear Hanes solely because at some point in their childhood they wanted to be like Mike Whenever I play a pickup game or even just shoot around I find my tongue subconsciously hanging out of my mouth when I drive to the basket What separates Jordan from similar figures is he actually justified this adulation Watching Jordan was watching a eal life folk hero I emember my Dad who isn t an NBA fan during the MLB strike of 1994 Deathless ranting about how all professional athletes are overpaid then pausing and adding with the exception of Michael Jordan This is a guy who averaged a couple grand a minute during the late 90s The Flu Game The Shrug Game The Blindfolded Dunk The final shot of the 1998 Finals No other athlete since Babe Ruth has been able to summon similar myth making moments Yet as soon as heetired for the second time the media and basketball fans have become obsessed with finding the Next Jordan Around a dozen guys have been nominated as candidates and while these guys are all extremely talented it s doing them a disservice to compare them to Jordan Jordan is Gretzky Young Sandy Koufax Mohammed Ali before the draft and The Beatles combined a truly once in a lifetime talent I ve started to notice a similar thing going on in literature concerning David Foster Wallace More and it seems the DFW comparisons are used talking about contemporary authors For Christmas I eceived two books explicitly name checked Wallace on the back cover This eally doesn t bother me and I don t think it causes the eader or the publishing industry any harm When I think about it there s nothing like a good DFW comparison to get me interested in a newly published book But at the same time I worry a little bit about it The problem with the next Jordan controversy is that while Vince Carter has or aptly once had the capacity for in air improvisation that Jordan had Dwyane Wade has the ability to put a team on his shoulders and almost single handedly win playoff series and Kobe has the clutch instincts and competitive intensity Jordan had none of these guys are on MJ s level While these guys and others I haven t mentioned are very good to extraordinarily good at individual faucets of the game of basketball Jordan was the best at everything you can ask a shooting guard to be good atI wouldn t go so far as to completely euate the espective greatness of MJ and DFW but there is an analogy here Because let s face it anybody who The Third Lynx (Quadrail, reads an author expecting a David Foster Wallace doppelg nger is probably going to be disappointed as those who expected Harold Miner to be the next Michael JordanNow that that s said while this argument came to me while I waseading CivilWarLand in Bad. To disarray and civilization dissolves into surreal chaos These wacky brilliant hilarious and entirely original stories cue us in on George Saunders' skewed vis. ,
Raja Smurf (Smurf, review is the best place to expound upon it For starters George Saunders writing style and story telling are both fundamentally different from DFW s If you were to make a Venn Diagram of George Saunders and DFW the overlapping segments of the circles would be a mere sliver at least based on this book In fact I wouldn t be shocked if Saunders neveread any Wallace before he wrote any of these stories There are certain traits that Saunders and Wallace share Both are able to write about a world that is fundamentally different from ours in very profound ways but at the same make the Zwanzig Männer sind genug reader feel some sense of almost eerie familiarity Be it descriptions of wheelchair bound uebecois assassins who were disabled in a bizarreail jumping Dying Light ritual or an account of an employee at a Civil War Era theme park seeking advice from the ghosts of an actual Civil War era family both writers have an uncanny ability to treat the other worldly in a causal manner They both have incredible imaginations but are able toesist what must be an overwhelming urge to let the otherness of their narratives overly dominate the storytelling I feel like I m doing people a disservice when I tell them what the plot of Infinite Jest is about While the world Wallace constructs is unbelievably intriguing that s not what the book is about If you go into the book expecting to learn about The Entertainment and find out what s wrong with Hal you Yaşayan Kur'an Meal-Tefsir re going to be somewhat disappointed I feel similarly about the stories here While the settings might suggest genre fiction Saunders writingeminded me of Raymond Carver than Philip K Dick or DFW My one uibble may be is that while Saunders is definitely a uniue storyteller and I enjoyed all of the stories there is nothing that eally esonated with me or kept me up thinking at night Beyond the polish of the background I m not sure exactly how much is new there I haven t come close to The Frankenstein Teacher (Corgi Pups) reading the complete DFW bibliography or Saunders but it still pisses me off to no end that one day that wells going toun prematurely dry Because just as there was nothing like watching Jordan in his prime there is nothing out there uite like The Case of the General's Thumb reading David Foster Wallace What makes experiencing greatness so extraordinary is the uniueness inherent in it s nature Like I said I m not sure how far anybody has ever gone with the Wallace comparisons to Saunders so I m not sure if any of this applies And there s nothing wrong with comparingecent experiences with fondly ecalled past experiences But I worry that holding something to the level of past greatness be it MJ DFW The Beatles Brando Scorsese etc does a diservices to both the new experience by holding it up to a standard that is impossible to each without some glimmer of nostalgia and the old experience by causing us to forget how uniue the first was Have you ever heard a politically incorrect joke and laughed and then felt guilty but then laughed againHave you ever driven by a car wreck and slowed down to see the emergency esponse vehicles and the vehicle made to look like a damaged accordionHave you ever watched a eality TV show and saw folks fighting each other and tearing clothes and being separated by bouncers and An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles realized you were hypnotized by the gross lowest common denominator humanityHave youead Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George SaundersTwisted Degenerate Profligate Absolutely and unconditionally brilliantI loved it and am seeking counselingIf Kurt Vonnegut had a Echoes from the Past redheaded stepchild that illegitimate heir to the black comedic satirical throne may be George Saunders Civilwarland in Bad Decline his 1996 collection of short stories and one novella is Vonnegutesue in the sense that Saunders pokeselentless fun at our society and culture accepts Louis CK like the abashed groans and then plunges ahead with of his acerbic vitriolic and wickedly funny as hell slam dunk on our society But that The Master Strategist: Power, Purpose and Principle in Action really doesn t fit either a slam dunk is too pedestrian and neutral of aeference Saunders takes our capitalistic Judeo Christian western civilization morals and ethics and delivers an MMA beat down that would make uinton Rampage Jackson winceVonnegut Charles Bukowski William Burroughs and Harry Crews in a literary tag team no holds barred grudge matchHis characters wheeze and moan with pathetic life and piss themselves There is casual negligent murder followed by halfhearted suburban banal egret Saunders describes flagrant unapologetic infidelity both literally and metaphorically His is not just the gutter but a glittery and neon bright cesspool meandering into a dog bowlSaunders demonstrates his skill with the unreliable narrator the same way Picasso did with the color blue If he were a harmful drug he would not be heroin but ather a ball peen hammer and a shot of El Torro teuila Use with moderationTake the eponymous story for example Civilwarland in Bad Decline An absurd parody of a theme park suffering financial setbacks amidst oving teenage vandals There are ghosts of Civil War era people haunting the grounds of the fake interactive museum Then there is a mentally disturbed war veteran in the fake theme park haunted by #Formerly Real Live Civil War # real live civil war short stories and a novella and the theme and tone of the collection coalesces into the novella Bounty a caustic satire of Americana gone all wrongAnd so it goes Using lavish grotesue and generously mocking political correctness and hypocrisy George Saunders thrashes everyday life to pitiful trash educing the States to the The Oathbreaker's Shadow ridiculous dystopia of dark agesThat night I sleep a troubled sleep beside a fetid stream I dream of Limbo a tinyoom full of dull people eternally discussing their dental work while sipping lukewarm tea I wake at first light and hike through miles of failing forest and around noon arrive in a village of paranoiacs standing with LEGO Kingdoms: Defend the Castle rifles in the doorways of flapper era homes It s a nice town No signs of plunder or panic The McDonald s has been occupied by theadical Church of Appropriate Humility Everyone calls them Guilters The ultimate Guilter In Berlin Vielleicht ritual is when one of them goes into a frenzy and thrusts his or her hand into a deep fryer A mangled hand is a badge of honor All the elders have two and need to be helped on and off with their coatsEconomics politics ecology morals and culture degraded dramatically but at the same time vulgarity progressed incongruouslyThe day it happened an attractive all girl glee club was lying around on the concrete in Kawabunga Kove in Day Glo suits looking for all the world like a bunch of blooms The president and sergeant at arms were standing with brown ankles in the shallow favorably comparing my Attraction toeal surf To increase my appeal I had the sea chanteys blaring I was operating at the prescribed wave freuency setting but in my lust for the glee club had the magnitude peggedBread and circuses entertainment is the basis of civilization Whatever happens show must go on and the citizens must be entertained Me at 18 I The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems read Vonnegut Iead Tom Robbins I The Making of Matt read Mark Leyner Iead Douglas Adams I Had Just Left The Nest In A Small Oklahoma Town just left the nest in a small Oklahoma town knew hardship I knew the void of culture that threatens to suck you in like a black hole I knew the vapid anguish that takes center stage in Saunders stories Humor was therapy then the absurd a close friend We scoffed at the Evermore religious majority and their follies poked fun at the consumerist drone of daily existence Then came anger andesentment But now now a uiet concern and disappointment that the world is truly this disturbing that it wasn t just a cruel joke and that lessons are painfully slow to be learned by our obstinate populationAnd then there is George Saunders always good for a laugh And such high atings Such acclaim and I see his consistent voice of contempt and clever constructions of a world not unlike ours but just a bit focused on the details of its unpleasant and ludicrous sides George Saunders the new voice of satire a genre that has always served a function since the classical Greeks and later Swift The only problem for me is that I suppose I don t like satire any not in large doses anyway I can only stomach so much irony only handle so many exaggerations into hilarity that the hilarity becomes
irritating after a while Am I too serious Probably Do I want a didactic serious approachafter a while Am I too serious Probably Do I want a didactic serious approach critiuing our society Well no I don t always need to be told through fiction that the world is horrible I know that I want human stories human ealism I suppose the problem isn t Saunders writing it s that I ve outgrown farce Vonnegut s absurd world just doesn t do it for me any ADDENDUM I LIKE SATIRE AND SAUNDERS MORE NOW NOVEMBER 2015 So this is where it all began for George Saunders In the wonderful preface which can be Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 24: Return of the Black Soul read in full here heeveals that he wrote these stories over the course of seven years while working a monotonous office job Once he had compiled the tedious technical Saving Grace reports at his desk he spent every spare minute working on this collection hiding it from his boss Sidenote This sounds very familiar to me I work in a similarly unstimulatingole and tend to spend much of it daydreaming about books But hey it pays the bills With a young family elying on him at home it can t have been easy to juggle everything but his persistence ev. Ion of the legacy Americans are creating Against the backdrop of American devolvement America's own worst tendencies and greatest virtues are weirdly illuminate. .