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In Persuasion Nationby George Saunders
While it was Saunders's Tenth of December that garnered all the attention, In Persuasion Nation is the book that is most representative of the Saunders experience. The stories show us a near future saturated in marketing and the tyranny of the brand, where scanners in the sidewalk attain consumer preferences and customize advertising accordingly, and focus groups are replaced by slaves acting in a never-ending series of commercials. But the chilling dystopia isn't what Saunders is after; his characters are imbued with a humanity and a warmth at odds with the starkness of his vision of where our society is headed (and increasingly, where it has ended up already). No one is penetrating to the heart of American life in the 21st century like Saunders is.
"This stabbing at some kind of righteousness in an illogical and hyper-marketed world is perfectly encapsulated by 'Jon,' the best story here, in which a teenager tries and fails and tries again to leave the only world he has ever known, a never-ending focus group on crack....Saunders is a hilarious, wicked, and pitch-perfect satirist of our times, of course, but for a satirist he has a whole lot of heart." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
A new collection of stories — and the best work yet — from the accclaimed and mind-bendingly hilarious George Saunders, the writer fast-becoming the heir apparent to Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut.
George Saunders has earned enthusiastic acclaim and a devoted cult-following with his first two story collections and the recent novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. With his new book, In Persuasion Nation, Saunders ups the ante in every way, and is poised to break out to a wide new audience.
The stories in In Persuasion Nation are easily his best work yet. "The Red Bow," about a town consumed by pet-killing hysteria, won a 2004 National Magazine Award and "Bohemians," the story of two supposed Eastern European widows trying to fit in in suburban USA, is included in The Best American Short Stories 2005. His new book includes both unpublished work and stories that first appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, and Esquire. The stories in this volume work together as a whole whose impact far exceeds the simple sum of its parts. Fans of Saunders know and love him for his sharp and hilarious satirical eye. But In Persuasion Nation also includes more personal and poignant pieces that reveal a new kind of emotional conviction in Saunders's writing.
Saunders's work in the last six years has come to be recognized as one of the strongest — and most consoling — cries in the wilderness of the millennium's political and cultural malaise. In Persuasion Nation's sophistication and populism should establish Saunders once and for all as this generation's literary voice of wisdom and humor in a time when we need it most.
"Following his superb story collections Civilwarland in Bad Decline (1996) and Pastoralia (1999), as well as last year's novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, Saunders reaffirms his sharp, surreal vision of contemporary, media-saturated life, but keeps most of the elements within his familiar bandwidth. In the sweetly acerbic 'My Flamboyant Grandson,' a family trip through Times Square is overwhelmed by pop-up advertisements. In 'Jon,' orphans get sold to a market research firm and become famous as 'Tastemakers & Trendsetters' (complete with trading cards). 'CommComm' concerns an air force PR flunky living with the restless souls of his parents while covering for a spiraling crisis at work. The more conventionally grounded stories are the most compelling: one lingers over a bad Christmas among Chicago working stiffs, another follows a pair of old Russian-Jewish women haunted by memories of persecution. Others collapse under the weight of too much wit (the title story especially), and a few are little more than exercises in patience ('93990,' 'My Amendment'). But Saunders's vital theme — the persistence of humanity in a vacuous, nefarious marketing culture of its own creation — comes through with subtlety and fresh turns." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Saunders's] third savagely imaginative collection, his most riveting to date....Funny, creepy, mournful, and outraged, Saunder's ingenious and superbly crafted satirical stories blaze like warning lights on the road to hell." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Saunders's work is as effective as social commentary as it is at exploring the frontiers of fiction. Many readers will be glad that they don't live in Persuasion Nation, though the most perceptive will recognize that we already do." Kirkus Reviews
"When Saunders was asked in an interview...when he was going to write a novel, he replied that a novel 'would be nice' but that he was still firmly in a 'short story mindset.' Admirers of that most demanding form should be glad he is." San Francisco Chronicle
"A George Saunders collection is best read piecemeal. Unless cut with more soothing fare, his stories are so imaginative, so wickedly diverting that the undertow takes you before you even feel a chill." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Few today can match Saunders' depth of inventiveness, and while not every story succeeds, this book should persuade the nation that we are in the presence of a talent that can, without exaggeration, be called unique." Hartford Courant
"The first thing you ought to know is that Saunders is the funniest writer in America....[But] Saunders's laughs are a cover, a diversion, beneath which reside some profoundly serious intentions regarding the morality of how we live and the power of love and immanent death to transform us into vastly better creatures....I can't think of another writer who would try to do what Saunders is doing, or anything close to it. This is an important book." The Nation
"Saunders is a hilarious, wicked, and pitch-perfect satirist of our times, of course, but for a satirist he has a whole lot of heart." Esquire
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tenth of December, a 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.
Talking candy bars, baby geniuses, disappointed mothers, castrated dogs, interned teenagers, and moral fables — all in this hilarious and heartbreaking collection from an author hailed as the heir to Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon.
This new collection of stories--his best work yet--comes from the acclaimed and mind-bendingly hilarious George Saunders.
About the Author
George Saunders's political novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil was published by Riverhead Trade Paperbacks in September 2005. He is also the author of Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, both New York Times Notable Books, and The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, a New York Times children's bestseller. In 2000, the New Yorker named him one of the "Best Writers Under 40." He writes regularly for the New Yorker and Harper's, as well as Esquire, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. He won a National Magazine Award for Fiction in 2004 and his work is included in Best American Short Stories 2005. He teaches at Syracuse University.
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