Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Saunders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saunders. Show all posts

09 October, 2014

Heather Sappenfield, "More Scope & Kindness & Power in My Books: An Interview with George Saunders"

A few of my favorite statements from the interview published in the October/November 2014 issue of Writer's Chronicle.

"Just so in a story: we make this artificial construct so we can observe human behavior in an exaggerated presentation. And mostly we do that because it is pleasurable to do so, for mysterious reasons."

"I think the best humor comes from being truthful at a time when we would normally be politely dishonest."

"We seem to take comfort in the idea that we can have thoughts and theories about art--and of course we can--but the relation between our thoughts/theories and the actual production of good writing is nebulous, alas. I see thinking and theorizing as support activities, the purpose of which is to get us to the main activity--which is instantaneous and intuitive and irreducible."

03 May, 2014

George Saunders, "The Semplica-Girl Diaries"

Tweaking our consumption maniacal society with live lawn ornaments, immigrant women with wires through their brains connecting them in a chain-gang of sorts dangling from a large outdoor frame, Saunders's story, "The Semplica-Girl Diaries," critiques our efforts at competing with each other over prestigious material goods. The best part of the story, for me, is the voice of the father who writes in a journal for future readers.

It's a testament to Saunders' skill and focus in that the voice is consistent and unique for 25 pages. I think it must have been difficult to sustain.

Family characters: Father, just turned 40 years old; mother, Pam; eldest daughter Lilly, 13 years old; middle daughter Eva; youngest male child, Thomas;

Themes: materialism, poverty, parenting, competition, immigration, money and debt.

First published in The New Yorker, then in the 2013 Best American Short Stories.

06 May, 2012

George Saunders, "Escape from Spiderhead"

"Escape from Spiderhead" tells of drug experimentation gone overboard in all ways possible. Abnesti is a scientist with prisoners at his disposal, literally. Jeff, Rogan, Keith, Rachel and Heather are subjected to the drugs aptly named: "Verbaluce," "Vivistif," "Darkenfloxx," "Veritalk," "Chatease" and "Docilryde," delivered via the "MobiPak" attached to each subject/inmate. While this story may seem a bit absurd, it is written in a realistic style and I'm afraid not too far from some truths. I will not tell the ending but it is a fascinating story topic and well-written. It's about 23 pages long and written in first person point of view.

This story was first published in the New Yorker and subsequently selected for inclusion in the Best American Short Stories, 2011. Saunders has an interesting background which informs his satirical and scientific subject matter.

Wikipedia web page about Saunders