In Persuasion Nation

by George Saunders
ISBN: 159448922X

I love the stories George Saunders writes. He’s a darkly funny genius, ironic, twisted, yadda yadda yadda… and I love his stuff.

If he’s your cup of enjoyably bitter tea, you’ll like this pot, too. Overall it isn’t his finest brew — but there are moments that equal CivilWarLand or Pastoralia. The obsessively marketed at, oppressively capitalist and crass reality of the world Saunders’s characters inhabit is a funhouse mirror version of our own — sometimes wildly distorted, sometimes a nearly perfect reflection.

Strangely enough, there are also nearly shining moments of hope and redemption here (in “My Flamboyant Grandson” and “commcomm”). This feels new for Saunders, and I’m curious to see if later stories move in this direction or not. I suspect they may get there, with freakish turns and detours through increasingly neon-glaringly grotesque underbellies. I know I’ll be along for the ride, wherever it is going.

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