A few caveats: It’s a collection of short stories, so it might not be for everybody. And some of the stories have an oddball, almost science-fiction feel, so it might not even be for most people. It’s running about 3½ stars on Amazon’s reviews. But trust me: this is pretty good writing. These are not the obtuse and unremittingly bleak little yarns that so often pass for literature and get nominated for obscure prizes. Some are funny, some are sad, but most are both. I’ll just say this: when I laugh on one page and get teary-eyed on the next, I believe I’m in the presence of a master.
I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of George Saunders until this book was mentioned as a finalist for the National Book Award. Maybe it’ll win and maybe it won’t (the winners are announced next week), but this is one nomination I can agree with.
My favorite stories are the first, “Victory Lap,” and the last, “Tenth of December.” But all of them are memorable. What I like about Saunders is that while he seems to recognize all that might go wrong in a human life, he sees no need to let the wrongness prevail. Or, more importantly, abandon one’s sense of humor.
Dave Bob says check it out. If you do, let me know what you think.