||Powell's Short List: Best Story Collections of the 21st Century (So Far)
Clever, nuanced, and weird, Tenth of December is a short story collection that manages to venture into uncomfortable places in a very entertaining way. Saunders explores questions of morality and personal responsibility with a lightness of touch and an irresistible charm — while he may create narrators that seem shortsighted or foolish at times, he clearly has affection for all his characters. Standouts in the collection include "Victory Lap," following two adolescent kids whose fight or flight reactions get put to the test, "Home," a heart-wrenching portrait of a shell-shocked veteran, and the dystopian tale "Escape from Spiderhead." Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
National Book Award Finalist • Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year By The New York Times Book Review
Includes an extended conversation with David Sedaris
One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.
In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill — the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.
Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.
Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December — through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit — not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”
“The best book you’ll read this year.” The New York Times Magazine
“A feat of inventiveness....This eclectic collection never ceases to delight with its at times absurd, surreal, and darkly humorous look at very serious subjects....George Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.” Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
“The best short-story writer in English — not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the Best.” Mary Karr, Time
“A visceral and moving act of storytelling....No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Saunders’s startling, dreamlike stories leave you feeling newly awakened to the world.” People
“It’s no exaggeration to say that short story master George Saunders helped change the trajectory of American fiction.” The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow George Saunders is the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, including Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, as well as a collection of essays and a book for children. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.