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.
Superb humour and a unique writing style. Some stories worked better than others, in my opinion, and the first story about a warped theme park with hilariously cruel management was... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Litfan
Funny, irreverent, thought-provoking. Yet that doesn't really sum this book up. Saunders' writing is one of a kind. Always interesting and always a pleasure.Published 3 months ago by Spartan66
Just read it but wasn't "freaking" crazy about it. At times interesting but at other times completely missed the mark for me. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Cory Iwatsu
The man is considered a modern master of the short story for some very good reasons. These stories are a few of themPublished 6 months ago by Tom OC