Monday, September 2, 2013

Bood Reveiw: Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders

Tenth of December: Stories

Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Date of Publication: January 8, 2013
Pages: 159 (NOOK Edition)

   This eclectic collection of nine short stories was heralded upon its publication in January, 2013 as one of the best books of the year.  It is an interesting set of stories, all dealing with contemporary issues.  The opening story "Victory Lap" is the story of a teen abduction told from three different perspectives: the victim, the perpetrator and an autistic neighbor.  There are stories of families with children facing various challenges, out of work middle class Americans and a noteworthy Iraqi war vet dealing with his dysfunctional family upon his return from active duty ("Home").

     The author uses various different writing styles in these stories. Some are told as an internal stream of consciousness ("Victory Lap" and "Al Roosten").  One story takes the form of a letter to employees trying to improve morale and maintain positive attitudes ("Exhortation").  Another is in diary format as a father explains why he cannot adequately provide for his family ("The Semplica Girl Diaries").

     There's an odd science fiction story ("Escape from Spiderhead") which is reminiscent of Anthony Burgess' A clockwork Orange in which Saunders creates an indictment of science and the scientific method.  My favorite line from any of the stories is the conclusion to a self-deprecating rant by the main character in "Al Roosten."  It is in regards to his wife who "  "...cheated on him with Charles, which had fried his ass possibly worse than any single other ass frying he'd ever had, in a life that, it recently seemed, was simply a series of escalating ass fries."

     This is a very entertaining and thought provoking set of stories regarding contemporary American life.  I liked the varying points of view but was put off by some of the seemingly endless stream of consciousness
style.  One of the best books of the year?  Maybe, but the year's not over.

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