Tenth of December, a collection of new short stories from George Saunders. I found out about this book from an interview of Saunders on the PBS News Hour’s Art Beat. The thing about these stories is how complete they are, even in their brevity. These are not like chapters where you finish one and flip a page to the next. These stories deserve a pause and thoughtfulness, the time you might take between putting down one book and choosing the next. There is humanity in these stories with all that implies: humor, love, darkness, pain, regret, joy… I keep wanting to read bits of it out loud to Klee. I’m becoming more interested in the short story genre and this collection is a great example of their impact. What most compelled me to check out Saunders work, in particular, is something he had to say during the interview: “You know, there is a quote-unquote political story by Chekhov. It’s called “Grief,” and in the story all that happens is there is a man who drives a horse-drawn cab and his son has died earlier that day. The whole story is he can’t get anyone to listen to him about his heartbreak. At the end of the story, he goes into the stall with the horse and takes the horse’s head and just says, ‘My son died today, I loved him very much.’ Is that a political story? Not really, except we are 10 years away from the Russian Revolution. So to me, if you want to explore a political idea in the highest possible way, you embody it in the personal, because that’s something that no one can deny. Whatever your supposed politics are — left, right — if you put it in a human connection, most people will rise to the occasion and feel the human pain in a way that they might not if it was presented in a more conceptual way.”

George Saunders has worked as a seismic prospector, a roofer and a technical writer before he began writing short fiction. He has taught in the graduate writing program at Syracuse for 16 years. There is a rather lengthy but interesting article from the NY Times: George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year

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