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In Persuasion Nation Hardcover – April 20, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (April 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448922X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489228
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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.

Customer Reviews

Avoid this rubbish book.
Sam Quixote
In Persuasion Nation is the third collection of short stories by George Saunders and continues to showcase his exceptional literary talent.
Matt Hausig
The title story is magic, surreal and, at the same time very down to earth.
A. T. A. Oliveira

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By BJ DuPont on April 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 By Ryan Williams on September 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 By A. T. A. Oliveira on June 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
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 By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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 By Christy Smith on April 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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