Tenth of December
“Sticks” is from George Saunders’s story collection, Tenth Of December (Random House). Saunders has written three previous collections, “Pastoralia,” “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” (both New York Times Notable Books) and, most recently, “In Persuasion Nation.” “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” was a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. “In Persuasion Nation” was one of three finalists for the 2006 STORY Prize for best short story collection of the year.
Saunders’s work has appeared in the O’Henry, “Best American Short Story,” “Best American Travel Writing,” and “Best Science Fiction” anthologies. In 2001, he was selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of the 100 top most creative people in entertainment, and by The New Yorker in 2002 as one of the best writers 40 and under. In 2006, he was awarded both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship.
Michael Schaub, writing for NPR, said this about the new collection: Since the publication of George Saunders’s 1996 debut story collection, Civilwarland in Bad Decline, journalists and scholars have been trying to figure out how to describe his writing. Nobody has come very close. The short story writer and novelist has been repeatedly called “original,” which is true as far as it goes — but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Saunders blends elements of science fiction, horror and humor writing into his trademark brand of literary fiction. Even his story titles (“Downtrodden Mary’s Failed Campaign of Terror,” “My Flamboyant Grandson”) are offbeat.
But with his new short story collection, Tenth of December, Saunders proves he’s a master of a genre few people have associated with him: realism. That’s not to say he has abandoned the bizarre, dystopian type of fiction that made him one of the country’s most well-regarded authors; that’s all still there. But in his new book, his defiant quirkiness is tempered with a dark sobriety and a sense that the world we live in is often more surreal and savage than any satire could be. Tenth of December isn’t just the author’s most unexpected work yet; it’s also his best.
Jennifer Egan calls the book “subversive, hilarious, and emotionally piercing.”