lukas, October 02, 2014
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Remember post-9/11, when irony was proclaimed dead? Well, no one told George Saunders (not to be confused with the late actor George Sanders). Saunders is, inexplicably, one of our most acclaimed story writers and, in case you didn't know that, there are four pages and a whole back cover worth of praise. Saunders belongs to the McSweeney's school of writing where things are "funny" rather than actually funny, a purposefully flat, bland style is deployed, and the irony is so persuasive it becomes a new kind of sincerity. Many of these writers are heavily in debt to Donald Barthelem, who did it first and did it better. Saunders prose style is a post-modern, sometimes surreal, droll mix of the debased language of advertising, interoffice memos, microwave dinner instructions, and corporate speak. Here's a typical sentence: "'A giant can of Raid gave me a wedgie,' says Voltaire."
He drops the irony for the best story in the collection "Christmas," which originally appeared in "The New Yorker." I suppose I'm not reacting so much to Saunders as the dead end and dessicated style of writing that he represents and is so pervasive (Miranda July, Steve Almond, Eggers, Tao Lin, etc.).