Tenth of December: Stories (Hardcover)
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Short stories are tough. Novels, I feel, can be messy and imperfect but still beloved; a short story, due to its defining length restriction, must be tight and incisive, without an ounce of fat on the bone. But, you know, it's also nice if in that restricted space, a writer can create real characters and have something happen, even if it's just ("just"! ha!) a Joycean moment of epiphany. This isn't easy to pull off, which means that while there are a lot of short stories out there, there are very few good ones. George Saunders' are some of the goodies. His newest collection, Tenth of December, opens with a bang reminiscent of A Good Man Is Hard to Find's title story, though fortunately for my heart (and stomach), Saunders isn't quite the cynic O'Connor was. He has a remarkable ability to get inside his characters' heads, rendering them flawed but sympathetic, and vibrantly alive upon the page. The stories in Tenth of December are delightfully dark but never quite bleak: gloriously full of people, and the things that happen to them. -- Anna Kaufman— From January 2013
January 2013 Indie Next List
“Saunders' stories stretch the boundaries of reality, but his characters are often defined by their limits. He is a master satirist in top form with this collection, but his occasionally outlandish settings never overshadow the humanity of the men, women, and children struggling through each tale. These stories do all the things we hope good fiction will do: blow your mind and break your heart, make you laugh and make you think. They are the kind of stories I feel grateful for, that stick in my head and heart and make me want to be a better person.”
— Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST FICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY AND BUZZFEED • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People • The New York Times Magazine • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • New York • The Telegraph • BuzzFeed • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage • Shelf Awareness
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.”
GEORGE SAUNDERS WAS NAMED ONE OF THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BY TIME MAGAZINE
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.
“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
“An irresistible mix of humor and humanity . . . that will make you beam with unmitigated glee. [Grade:] A”—Entertainment Weekly
“Saunders captures the fragmented rhythms, disjointed sensory input, and wildly absurd realities of the twenty-first century experience like no other writer.”—The Boston Globe
“Tenth of December shows George Saunders at his most subversive, hilarious, and emotionally piercing. Few writers can encompass that range of adjectives, but Saunders is a true original—restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane.”—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
“George Saunders is a complete original, unlike anyone else, thank god—and yet still he manages to be the rightful heir to three other complete American originals—Barthelme (the lyricism, the playfulness), Vonnegut (the outrage, the wit, the scope), and Twain (the common sense, the exasperation). There is no author I recommend to people more often—for ten years I’ve urged George Saunders onto everyone and everyone. You want funny? Saunders is your man. You want emotional heft? Saunders again. You want stories that are actually about something—stories that again and again get to the meat of matters of life and death and justice and country? Saunders. There is no one better, no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity.”—Dave Eggers, author of A Hologram for the King