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In Persuasion Nation [Kindle Edition]

George Saunders
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $4.01 (27%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC


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Book Description

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tenth of December, a 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

Talking candy bars, baby geniuses, disappointed mothers, castrated dogs, interned teenagers, and moral fables—all in this hilarious and heartbreaking collection from an author hailed as the heir to Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon.

"The first thing you ought to know is that Saunders is the funniest writer in America... [But] Saunders's laughs are a cover, a diversion, beneath which reside some profoundly serious intentions regarding the morality of how we live and hte power of love and immanent death to transform us into vastly better creatures... I can't think of another writer who would try to do what Saunders is doing, or anything close to it. This is an important book."—The Nation

"Saunders is a hilarious, wicked, and pitch-perfect satirist of our times, of course, but for a satirist he has a whole lot of heart."—Esquire

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Following his superb story collections Civilwarland in Bad Decline (1996) and Pastoralia (1999), as well as last year's novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, Saunders reaffirms his sharp, surreal vision of contemporary, media-saturated life, but keeps most of the elements within his familiar bandwidth. In the sweetly acerbic "My Flamboyant Grandson," a family trip through Times Square is overwhelmed by pop-up advertisements. In "Jon," orphans get sold to a market research firm and become famous as "Tastemakers & Trendsetters" (complete with trading cards). "CommComm" concerns an air force PR flunky living with the restless souls of his parents while covering for a spiraling crisis at work. The more conventionally grounded stories are the most compelling: one lingers over a bad Christmas among Chicago working stiffs, another follows a pair of old Russian-Jewish women haunted by memories of persecution. Others collapse under the weight of too much wit (the title story especially), and a few are little more than exercises in patience ("93990," "My Amendment"). But Saunders's vital theme—the persistence of humanity in a vacuous, nefarious marketing culture of its own creation—comes through with subtlety and fresh turns. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Can there be too much good Saunders? Critics praise the book but then admit that reading the stories in succession almost overwhelmed them. As he did in CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia, Saunders takes our world to its logical extremes, sometimes to the point of oversaturation. If his work seems avant-garde, it's approachably so, probably because of his ability to "construct a story of absurdist satire, then locate within it a moment of searing humanity" (Boston Globe). There is some unevenness to his latest collection (both the title story and "Brad Carrigan, American" leave many critics grumbling, while "Bohemians" was chosen for this year's Best American Short Stories), but reviewers agree that there's no substitute for Saunders at his best—especially in small doses.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 352 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 159448922X
  • Publisher: Riverhead; Reprint edition (April 20, 2006)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OVLIN8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,159 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book April 27, 2006
For objectivity's sake: I am a big fan of George Saunders' fiction and non-fiction alike. I see In Persuasion Nation as a step forward into new territories and places (always in Saunders' fiction, there is the place -- CivilWarLand, the land of Inner Horner, alternate universes where our advertising creations live lives close to our own), if not a giant leap ahead. Saunders' keeps it simple, but provocative: the world and all of its inhabitants are sacred, so why do we squander all of that precious sanctity brutalizing each other? This theme winds its way throughout this collection in ways both stark and hilarious. The prose is grounded in the way we say things, which casts an even stronger light on those passages that are transcendent in their simple and precise lyricism (here I am thinking especially of the ending to "CommComm", which I think is maybe Saunders' strongest story yet). If Saunders' deep concern with humanity comes across as saccharine at times, I think that's more of a comment on where we're at than where his fiction is, cause if you can't come to care for this cast of characters (which includes an orange and a polar bear with a hatchet in his head), then, well . . .
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Which I can only describe as Nothing-Is-Excluded...' September 5, 2006
Warped environments, pitch-perfect prose, corporate strong-arming, roof-tarring, talking baby masks, humanity down but not out.

George Saunders is back and skewering consumerist largesse as never before.

Let's not beat about the bush: In Persuasion Nation is an uneven collection. 'Brad Corrigan, American', 'My Flamboyant Grandson', and 'My Amendment' are slight pieces: they rely on conceits that don't carry the necessary weight. But then when we get to 'CommComm', 'The Red Bow' and 'Bohemians'...and you feel the way Raymond Carver's readers must have felt the first time the first time they feasted on 'A Small Good Thing' and 'Cathedral'. 'CommComm' in particular is slowly usurping 'The 400-Pound Ceo' as my favourite Saunders story.

For all Saunders's settings and situations, I never feel that he's a bleak author. He's too outrageous, too in love with humanity to leave that bitter, dystopian aftertaste. Saunders - a former geologist and practicing Buddhist - always gives humanity its due. Even God makes a decent cameo appearance. God is as he is elsewhere in Saunders's work - immanent, transcendent, quiet, and unassuming. In this respect, Saunders resembles the Scottish past-master, Alasdair Gray.

IPN isn't the author's best collection, but it contains his best pieces so far. I eagerly await the next installment in the Saunders saga.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No country for sad men June 14, 2011
George Saunders' "In persuasion nation" is a collection of stories so funny that it is impossible to feel sad after reading it. At the same time, it is a complex satire of our time, of the future we are heading to. He is a perceptive writer that combines good prose with an acid view of our time. The title story is magic, surreal and, at the same time very down to earth. It is about a group rebellion against advertisement and consumerism. All the stories handle a modern subject that has changed - not necessarily for better - our lives. Saunders' imagination is limitless and because of it his stories are at the same time funny and a warning for the state of the world.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "America, to me, should be shouting all the time" June 15, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I heard the author at a book reading when his previous collection, "Pastoralia," came out. I asked him how he conceived his intricate, twisting stories. He replied that it was like tossing a stick out for your dog to fetch, but the dog comes back with a baby's severed (I hope) arm in his mouth. Or maybe it was a doll's head, or a real one. You get the picture, however.

As "Pastoralia" marked a shift into more humane characters if no less bizarre scenarios away from the corporate-psychobabble-consumerist dystopias of his first collection, "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline," so "In Persuasion Nation" depicts his fumbling figures adrift in a more media-driven setting, farther from the tract homes, chain stores at the strip malls, and "business parks" of his earlier stories. He's an acquired taste, and not a quick read despite the superficial facility of his prose. Like Vonnegut, with whom I sense here an increasing connection, Saunders strives to marry the morality tale to the satirical invective against homogenization and conformity that masks its domination in the cant of buyer's (or voter's!) choice, free-enterprise, and relentless salesmanship.

More humanity, and less concentration on verbal tics and ingenious vignettes, shows Saunders' evolution as a writer. The four sections gather stories into patterns that, especially at the start and closing, recalled for me an unlikely but indirectly perhaps influential predecessor: James Joyce's "Dubliners." As nearly a century ago the pattern of social paralysis emerged through stories arranged from childhood to adolescence to public life to maturity, before entering the sublime and disturbing epiphanies of "The Dead," so here do twelve entries arrange themselves in a similar order.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for those new to Saunders. April 27, 2006
And not only because it is his best work to date. More so, because the stories start out in the realm of reality, albeit Sci-fi/futuristic reality and slowly initiate the reader into the warped world of Saunders. Or, maybe it is only the real world shown, to us, in its true form.

I suggest anyone interested in this book read the first chapter. If it makes you laugh and then hurt and then wonder, I can honestly say you will enjoy the rest of the book. If you read it and wonder what the heck is going on then this is not for you.

Come on in; visit the future, talk to ghosts, and learn what it is to be in existance for "buying".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great book!
This book had me reacting out-loud and writing all over it. Really makes you think, and laugh while you're at it. One of my favorites.
Published 1 month ago by Camille
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrific when Saunders works in his space
IN PERSUASION NATION is the third collection of stories by George Saunders that I have read. The other collections, Tenth of December: Stories, which published in 2013, and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ethan Cooper
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun stories ... but too weird
There is no doubt that Saunders puts together amazing stories. This collection is fantasy in the unreal world of advertising/consumerism. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gary
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
It was ok. For me a little over the top cynically. Got other great reviews and can see that for some.
Published 2 months ago by TJGOLF
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed ...
One of those authors who seems to think of 'cool' situations that should be in a story, and then writes around them. Also, has a heavy hand with his views. Read more
Published 3 months ago by aeci
5.0 out of 5 stars George Saunders is always awesome
If you like the work of George Saunders and are not freaked out by his disturbing, poignant, post-modern landscape, you will enjoy this collection as it is more of the same. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Linda Lee McDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars YES! Get anything George Saunders writes.
George Saunders is a beautiful phenomenon that somehow is also human and hilarious, an outsider looking in, full of pathos and empathy for all! Read more
Published 5 months ago by M. Tuite
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique short story writer
This is an amazing collection of distopian stories of the not very distant super-commercialized America. It is America disfunctional in an overly functional way. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Donald Chabot
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a fantastic writer
I loved this book and I intend to buy more of his books. Simply a fantastic writer, as I wrote. Buy this book and his other books!
Published 6 months ago by agent_cant_name
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it
I read this and "Tenth of December" (published in 2013) back to back. I have to say I liked "In Persuasion Nation" more--perhaps because the stories seemed to have... Read more
Published 7 months ago by A. Fineman
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More About the Author

George Saunders's political novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil was published by Riverhead Trade Paperbacks in September 2005. He is also the author of Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, both New York Times Notable Books, and The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, a New York Times children's bestseller. In 2000, The New Yorker named him one of the "Best Writers Under 40." He writes regularly for The New Yorker and Harper's, as well as Esquire, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. He won a National Magazine Award for Fiction in 2004 and his work is included in Best American Short Stories 2005. He teaches at Syracuse University.

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Topic From this Discussion
Cynicism, Consumerism and Redemption
Mr. Conner,
While I agree with all of your points, Saunders has chosen to skirt so far out of the norm because every other medium (sports, tv, radio etc...) stay only within their self formed confines. Never do they point out the inherent dangers of consumerism, and why would they?

So here we... Read More
May 29, 2006 by Christy Smith |  See all 5 posts
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