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Pastoralia

by

Pastoralia Cover

 

Awards

A New York Times Notable Book of 2000.
One of Entertainment Weekly's Ten Best Fiction Books of 2000.

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

In an era that boasts Jerry Springer, Tammy Faye Baker, and "Survivor Africa," it's difficult to make it as a satirist. Any effort to exaggerate the world's ridiculous contractions — the satirist's stock in trade — falls flat. Reality has already become a surreal parody of itself. So, an author who can inflate what is already extreme, without resorting to gimmicks or sounding forced, has really achieved something. George Saunders does just this by relating his weird stories about bizarre theme parks, computer-generated game shows, and self-help gurus in a voice as bland as Donald Rumsfeld's. Yet underneath their deadpan veneer, these stories are biting, dark, and very, very funny, a pleasantly postmodern answer to Kurt Vonnegut. Saunders's achievements have not gone unnoticed. Civil War Land in Bad Decline, his first book, was a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award. Saunders has further received three National Magazine Awards and three O. Henry Awards, including one for the brilliant title story of Pastoralia. The New Yorker also named Saunders one of the country's Twenty Best Writers Under Forty. C. P. Farley, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

In the old days, when heads were constantly poking in, we liked what we did. Really hammed it up. Had little grunting fights....Sometimes we'd go down to Russian Peasant Farm for a barbecue, I remember there was Murray and Leon, Leon was dating Eileen, Eileen was the one with all the cats, but now, with the big decline in heads poking in, the Russian Peasants are all elsewhere, some to Administration but most not, Eileen's cats have gone wild, and honest to God sometimes I worry I'll go to the Big Slot and find it goatless.
— from Pastoralia

If Americans in the future were to try to send us a message about where our culture is heading, they might simply point to the fiction of George Saunders. Living in a world that's both indelibly original and hauntingly familiar, the characters in these stories bring to life our most absurd tendencies, and allow us to see ourselves in a shocking, uproariously funny new light.

Here you find people who live and work in a simulated, theme-park cave and communicate with their loved ones via fax machine. You encounter a family happily gathered around their favorite form of entertainment, a computer-generated TV show called The Worst That Could Happen. And you hear an upbeat self-help guru sermonize about how figuring out who's been "crapping in your oatmeal" will help raise your self-esteem. With an uncanny sense of how our culture reflects our character, Saunders mixes a deadpan naturalism with a wicked sense of humor to reveal a picture of contemporary America that's both feverishly strange and, through his characters' perseverance, oddly hopeful.

Named by The New Yorker one of the Twenty Best American Writers Under Forty, George Saunders has been recognized as a visionary storyteller with a hypnotic style. Critics have placed him in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, and Thomas Pynchon — "a savage satirist with a sentimental streak," said The New York Times. These stories bring greater wisdom and maturity to the worldview he established with his first collection, and leave little doubt that he has found a place in modern fiction all his own.

Review:

"An astoundingly tuned voice — graceful, dark, authentic, and funny — telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times." Thomas Pynchon

Review:

"Intoxicating." Time Out

Review:

"Exuberantly weird...brutally funny." The New York Times

Review:

"Compulsively swallowed, sweetly addictive." San Francisco Bay Guardian

Review:

"Demands to be reread immediately." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Hilarious and heartrending." The Village Voice

Review:

"Breathtaking, brutally hilarious satire, a savage skewering not only of the American workplace, but of the American character itself....Pastoralia is a masterpiece of unsettling comedy." San Diego Union Tribune

Review:

"Screamingly funny." Time

Review:

"Saunders is a provocateur, a moralist, a zealot, a lefty, and a funny, funny writer, and the stories in Pastoralia delight. We're very lucky to have them." Esquire

Review:

"Artful and sophisticated...truly unusual. Imagine Lewis's Babbitt thrown into the back seat of a car going cross-country, driven by R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Harvey Pekar, or Spike Jonze. That'd be a story Saunders could tell." The New York Times

Review:

"The short-story collection of the year....Pastoralia does everything a gathering of tales is supposed to do: It touches the reader but also provokes reflection, mirth, and pain." Kansas City Star

Review:

"Dazzling....Saunders's misfits confront their degradations with heroic optimism; rarely have the comic nuances of suffering been tracked with such precision. These stories, injected with Saunders's highly original blend of irony and tenderness, ride you down spirals of the absurd and fling you back to your own life, startled." Men's Journal

Review:

"A master of distilling the disorders of our time into fiction." Salon

Review:

"Fiercely funny...[Saunders is] a master of the self-flagellating interior monologue." The Boston Globe

Review:

"Being inside the teeming heads of these folks is amusing and enlightening. So accurately are [his characters] rendered, in all their flawed glory, that they appear not only perfectly human but familiar." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Mr. Saunders' satiric vision of America is dark and demented: it is also ferocious and very funny." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"Riveting." U.S. News and World Report

Synopsis:

Hailed by Thomas Pynchon as "graceful, dark, authentic, and funny," George Saunders now surpasses his New York Times Notable Book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with this bestselling collection of stories set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.

One of Entertainment Weekly's Ten Best Books of the Year

Synopsis:

From an author named by The New Yorker as one of the "20 Best American Fiction Writers Under 40," a hilarious, inventive, unforgettable collection of stories.

His remarkable first collection of stories was hailed by The New York Times as "the debut of an exciting new voice in fiction." Garrison Keillor called him wildly funny, pure, generous — all that a great humorist should be." With this new collection, George Saunders takes us even further into the shocking, uproarious, and oddly familiar landscape of his imagination.

The stories in Pastoralia are set in a slightly skewed version of America, where elements of contemporary life have been merged, twisted, and amplified, casting their absurdity — and our humanity — in a startling new light. Whether he writes a gothic morality tale in which a male exotic dancer is haunted by his maiden aunt from beyond the grave, or about a self-help guru who tells his followers his mission is to discover who's been "crapping in your oatmeal," Saunders's stories are both indelibly strange and vividly real.

George Saunders has been identified as a writer in the tradition of Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut — "a savage satirist with a sentimental streak," said The New York Times. In this new collection, Saunders brings greater wisdom and maturity to the worldview he established with CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, leaving no doubt about his place as the brilliant successor to these writers.

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tenth of December, a 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

Hailed by Thomas Pynchon as "graceful, dark, authentic, and funny," George Saunders now surpasses his New York Times Notable Book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with this bestselling collection of stories set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.

One of Entertainment Weeklys Ten Best Books of the Year

"Artful and sophisicated... truly unusual. Imagine Lewis's Babbitt thrown into the backseat of a car going cross-country, driven by R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Harvey Pekar, or Spike Jonze." — The New York Times

"Saunders is a provocateur, a moralist, a zealot, a lefty, and a funny, funny writer, and the stories in Pastoralia delight. We're very luck to have them." — Esquire

Synopsis:

Hailed by Thomas Pynchon as "graceful, dark, authentic, and funny," George Saunders now surpasses his New York Times Notable Book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with this bestselling collection of stories set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.

One of Entertainment Weekly’s Ten Best Books of the Year

About the Author

George Saunders is the author of the story collection CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award, and of The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, a New York Times bestseller. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

mr.rfitzgerald, July 27, 2012 (view all comments by mr.rfitzgerald)
Enjoyed three out of the five stories in this collection immensely. "Pastoralia, "Sea Oak," and "The Barber's Unhappiness" are all terrific reads, and I guarantee each will have you laughing out loud and biting your knuckle during their respective highs and lows. That said, the other two stories "Winky" and "The Falls" fall flat in comparison, feel a little less genuine, and don't seem to have quite as much to say. Still, the price of admission is well worth it - if you're alive and breathing (or if you're not, but you still have a sense of humor), you owe it to yourself to pick up this book.

For more reviews, literary meanderings, and The Malapropist Tribune, be sure to check out my site at www.robertlamriande.com.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
willguzzo, September 27, 2009 (view all comments by willguzzo)
Saunders is one of the best, no question. And "Pastoralia" is a magnificent collection. Absolute excellence, technically and emotionally masterful writing.

We've got a new interview with Saunders in the just-released Issue 3 of Wag's Revue, an online-only literary quarterly. He talks with us about his method, the role of the author, the nature of language, his favorite movie candies, and a lot more. He also talks a great deal about several of the stories in this collection, so if you're interested, please stop on by: http://www.wagsrevue.com.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781573228725
Author:
Saunders, George
Publisher:
Riverhead Books
Location:
New York, NY
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Short stories
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
United States Social life and customs.
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
June 2001
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.04x5.12x.58 in. .37 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books

Pastoralia Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Riverhead Books - English 9781573228725 Reviews:
"Review" by , "An astoundingly tuned voice — graceful, dark, authentic, and funny — telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times."
"Review" by , "Intoxicating."
"Review" by , "Exuberantly weird...brutally funny."
"Review" by , "Compulsively swallowed, sweetly addictive."
"Review" by , "Demands to be reread immediately."
"Review" by , "Hilarious and heartrending."
"Review" by , "Breathtaking, brutally hilarious satire, a savage skewering not only of the American workplace, but of the American character itself....Pastoralia is a masterpiece of unsettling comedy."
"Review" by , "Screamingly funny."
"Review" by , "Saunders is a provocateur, a moralist, a zealot, a lefty, and a funny, funny writer, and the stories in Pastoralia delight. We're very lucky to have them."
"Review" by , "Artful and sophisticated...truly unusual. Imagine Lewis's Babbitt thrown into the back seat of a car going cross-country, driven by R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Harvey Pekar, or Spike Jonze. That'd be a story Saunders could tell."
"Review" by , "The short-story collection of the year....Pastoralia does everything a gathering of tales is supposed to do: It touches the reader but also provokes reflection, mirth, and pain."
"Review" by , "Dazzling....Saunders's misfits confront their degradations with heroic optimism; rarely have the comic nuances of suffering been tracked with such precision. These stories, injected with Saunders's highly original blend of irony and tenderness, ride you down spirals of the absurd and fling you back to your own life, startled."
"Review" by , "A master of distilling the disorders of our time into fiction."
"Review" by , "Fiercely funny...[Saunders is] a master of the self-flagellating interior monologue."
"Review" by , "Being inside the teeming heads of these folks is amusing and enlightening. So accurately are [his characters] rendered, in all their flawed glory, that they appear not only perfectly human but familiar."
"Review" by , "Mr. Saunders' satiric vision of America is dark and demented: it is also ferocious and very funny."
"Review" by , "Riveting."
"Synopsis" by , Hailed by Thomas Pynchon as "graceful, dark, authentic, and funny," George Saunders now surpasses his New York Times Notable Book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with this bestselling collection of stories set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.

One of Entertainment Weekly's Ten Best Books of the Year

"Synopsis" by , From an author named by The New Yorker as one of the "20 Best American Fiction Writers Under 40," a hilarious, inventive, unforgettable collection of stories.

His remarkable first collection of stories was hailed by The New York Times as "the debut of an exciting new voice in fiction." Garrison Keillor called him wildly funny, pure, generous — all that a great humorist should be." With this new collection, George Saunders takes us even further into the shocking, uproarious, and oddly familiar landscape of his imagination.

The stories in Pastoralia are set in a slightly skewed version of America, where elements of contemporary life have been merged, twisted, and amplified, casting their absurdity — and our humanity — in a startling new light. Whether he writes a gothic morality tale in which a male exotic dancer is haunted by his maiden aunt from beyond the grave, or about a self-help guru who tells his followers his mission is to discover who's been "crapping in your oatmeal," Saunders's stories are both indelibly strange and vividly real.

George Saunders has been identified as a writer in the tradition of Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut — "a savage satirist with a sentimental streak," said The New York Times. In this new collection, Saunders brings greater wisdom and maturity to the worldview he established with CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, leaving no doubt about his place as the brilliant successor to these writers.

"Synopsis" by ,
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tenth of December, a 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

Hailed by Thomas Pynchon as "graceful, dark, authentic, and funny," George Saunders now surpasses his New York Times Notable Book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with this bestselling collection of stories set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.

One of Entertainment Weeklys Ten Best Books of the Year

"Artful and sophisicated... truly unusual. Imagine Lewis's Babbitt thrown into the backseat of a car going cross-country, driven by R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Harvey Pekar, or Spike Jonze." — The New York Times

"Saunders is a provocateur, a moralist, a zealot, a lefty, and a funny, funny writer, and the stories in Pastoralia delight. We're very luck to have them." — Esquire

"Synopsis" by ,
Hailed by Thomas Pynchon as "graceful, dark, authentic, and funny," George Saunders now surpasses his New York Times Notable Book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with this bestselling collection of stories set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.

One of Entertainment Weekly’s Ten Best Books of the Year

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