One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.
In the taut opener, "Victory Lap," a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In "Home," a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to killthe unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders's signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.
Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.
Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December - through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit - not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov's dictum that art should "prepare us for tenderness."
Some may wonder what George Saunders, the brilliant and often bitingly satirical author whose work largely came of age during the George W. Bush administration, would find to focus on in this nominally less politically fraught time. It turns out that to a writer for whom humanity’s moral imperatives - indeed the very essence of humanity itself - is at the center of his attention, there’s still more than enough material to populate a devastatingly insightful collection like Tenth of December. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
Starred Review. Eventually, a suspicion creeps in that, behind Saunders's comic talents, he might be the most compassionate writer working today.
A new story collection from the most playful postmodernist since Donald Barthelme, with narratives that can be enjoyed on a number of different levels...Nobody writes quite like Saunders.
Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad Tenth of December shows George Saunders at his most subversive, hilarious, and emotionally piercing. Few writers can encompass that range of adjectives, but Saunders is a true original - restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane.
Dave Eggers, author of A Hologram for the King
George Saunders is a complete original, unlike anyone else, thank god ... for ten years I've urged George Saunders onto everyone and everyone....There is no one better, no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity.
George Saunders is well known for his inventive use of language; perhaps his willingness to explore and exploit the forms and function of language derives in part from his earlier career, as a geophysical engineer. Saunders credits his early exposure to the works of Ayn Rand (some of the first fiction he recalls reading) with his decision to enter the field of engineering in college. "I read [her books] and I thought that's what I want to do," Saunders said in an interview with Guernica, "I want to be one of the earth movers, the scientific people who power the world. And I don't want to be one of these lisping liberal artsy leeches." Soon after getting his degree from the Colorado School of Mines, Saunders was traveling the world - including an extended stay in Sumatra - doing site evaluation for oil drilling.
During this somewhat isolated and lonely time, Saunders began reading...
An indispensable collection of new and classic stories, Blasphemy reminds us, on every thrilling page, why Sherman Alexie is one of our greatest contemporary writers and a true master of the short story.
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