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Dancing on the edge.,
This review is from: CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (Paperback)
After hearing George Saunders' name mentioned alonside those of Denis Johnson, Tim O'Brien and Donald Barthelme, modern masters of the short story, I was suprised to find that he only had one small collection in print. After reading that one collection I was shocked to discover that George Saunders has more inborn talent than perhaps any other writer in America today. That he chooses to use that talent in the way he does, crafting edgy, disturbing tales of cultural corruption and alienation, bodes very well for the future of American letters.
The collection draws its title from the first story in the book, probably the best story written by any American author in the last half of the 20th century. Describing the story with any brevity is an almost impossible task. Suffice it to say that it concerns a civil war style theme park director haunted by civil war era ghosts who hires a psychotic Vietnam veteran to rid the park of the gangs who keep invading the place and terrorizing the workers and visitors. This ludicrous story line is sharpened by Suanders' remarkable wit and spirals to a shocking and disturbing conclusion.
Unfortunately, none of the remaining stories in the book equal the brilliance of the first, but none of them really disappoint the reader either. "Isabelle" is strangely moving and "The 400 Pound CEO" is a tragicomedy whose ending is so innevitable that it is almost painful to read. George Saunders from whom there is much to expect and he has the undeniable talent to back up those expectations.