Sunday, February 18, 2018

Book Review: Tenth of December by George Saunders

I can't help but feeling this collection comes off better in short in the magazines it was originally printed in--The New Yorker and Harper's primarily.  I can easily see reading these in a magazine during a transitory visit to an airport or in a 20 minute trip to a library.  A sort of brief distraction if you will, that makes you pause ever so briefly to wonder if your own existence aligns with those of his characters but ultimately concluding that while I agree with his view of the modern world, his characters are not those with whom I can find enough of myself in, nor are significantly attached to in the time I spend with them to care about their plights.

While I enjoyed the stories, all of which are modern in topic and some of which border on science fiction, I found none of them particularly resonant with the exception of the titular work in which a disaffected young boy saves the life of a suicidal older man and vice versa.  Never did I imagine myself buying a dog from a meth-head trailer trash family or a lower-middle class father trying to keep up with the Jonses by hanging poor immigrants from my trees as a decoration.

The rest of the collection touches on returning soldiers, manipulation of mental states, modern suburbia, etc. which are all typically in my wheelhouse for interest...I just never found an emotional connection to any of the characters outside of the aforementioned two.

Saunders is by all accounts an awarded novelist and short story writer so maybe it was I who didn't bring something to the table that would allow the connection with his works, but for whatever reason, it wasn't there beyond the time it takes to consume the media.

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