“Having felt that abyss, I basically said, ‘O.K., capitalism, I have seen your gaping maw, and I want no trouble with you.’ ” – George Saunders
My heart leaped when I saw that George Saunders had a new story collection coming out this year. Ever since reading his story, In Persuasion Nation, back in 2005, my love for his work has continued unabated and I urge you, blog reader, to grab a copy of Tenth of December immediately.
For those unfamiliar with Saunders, his work uses satire and the surreal to capture the strangeness and unrelenting brutality of modern American corporate culture where cruelty is wrapped in management speak. His stories are dark and sharply funny, yet carry a deeply moral bent. In Escape from Spiderhead,a human test subject experiences a series of increasingly ruthless Milgramesque experiments to which he must decide to comply or resist. While in The Semplica Girl Diaries, a father struggles with providing for his family. When he wins the lottery he fulfills his daughter’s dream of having a set of Semplica Girls, which turn out to be a type of living lawn ornaments that reflect our ever growing globalized economy. The title story is a lovely showstopper combining the crossed paths of a man seeking suicide after his cancer diagnosis and the nerdy boy who sets out to save him.
Though many of Saunders’ characters seem to be caught in situations without escape, there is an undercurrent of grace and hope that persists despite the characters’ bleak situations.