The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

by George Saunders
ISBN: 1594481520

I’ve said before that Saunders writes sick, funny stories, and that he may be a genius. I told you that finding humor in the darkness they way Saunders does is something we are likely to need more of in the future.

So do you really need me to tell you that The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil is worth every penny, even at the full retail price of $13.00 ($18 Canadian)?

In case you do need me to, let me remove all doubt — it is. Imagine a land where the national drinking song (ahem, anthem) is called “Large, Large, Large, Beloved Land (If Not The Best, Why So Very Dominant?).” Where Special Friends carry out governmental orders. Where the President’s brain slides off and he sounds better that way. Where the press talks out of its ass. Where the government strips poor people naked to pay taxes, and disassembles them for resisting.

You know, a land a lot like this one. Only even more absurd — think 1984, written as a comedy. Saunders skewers just about everyone with this fable. I only hope it was as rewarding for him to write as it is was for me to read, because that means he’s likely to write even more. Saunders even pulls off a decent voice of God, a “fundamentally untranslatable Creator-language” that, if we could only understand it, would be telling us:

EACH OF YOU ARE SECRETLY AFRAID YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. BUT YOU ARE, TRUST ME, YOU ARE.

Highly recommended — read it twice.

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