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Sounds like bleak stuff, doesn't it? Yet Saunders handles his characters with grace and humor. In the title story, for example, a couple occupies a squalid corner of a human zoo, where they act out a parody of caveman times, communicating in grunts and hand motions (speaking is instantly punishable by the Orwellian management) and conducting their lives during 15-minute smoke breaks. In "Winky," a born loser (really, all of Saunders's characters are born losers) visits a self-help seminar, where he's encouraged to rid himself of all those people who are "crapping in your oatmeal." Exhilarated at the prospect of dumping his simple, crazy-haired, religion-besotted sister, he returns home to the bleak discovery that he needs her as much as she needs him. The protagonist of "Sea Oak" works as a stripper in an aviation-themed restaurant and lives next to a crack house with his unemployed sisters, their babies, and a sweet old maid of an aunt. The aunt dies, and then returns from the grave--not so sweet, now, and still decomposing--with strange powers and a sobering message:
You ever been in the grave? It sucks so bad! You regret all the things you never did. You little bitches are going to have a very bad time in the grave unless you get on the stick, believe me!The characters and situations in the rest of Pastoralia are equally wretched. But Saunders rescues them from utter despair with a loving belief in the triumph of the human spirit: yes, things can always get worse, but worse is better than the cold dirt of the grave. And in the small space between wretchedness and death there is plenty of room for laughter, and even love. --Tod Nelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I‘ve just been introduced to George Saunders, a master of short-form hyper-realist comic-pathetic fantasies. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bart Mills
One of my favorite writers. I will read anything by George Saunders.Published 2 months ago by C. C. Covelli
In his stories, he creates whole new, though completely relatable worlds, and you find yourself (uncomfortably) relating to the characters more than you ever expected. Wonderful. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Brian Olesky
Saunders delves deftly and without compromise into the human mind. Though his characters are extreme, they smack of familiarity to those who admit to the pits of self-doubt and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mr. Richard K. Weems
For a novel, a review should consume some white space, a little detail. For this? I'll just participate in the general democratic process of saying I loved it, I respect it, and I... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Zooie Bad Foot
To be honest, this was rather disappointing after seeing it get such high praise. All of the characters are one-dimensional and predictable. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Matthew A.
Dark tinged short stories. They are the kind of stories that are "brain worms" they get in and don't come out for a very very long time. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amjra