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 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 His new book includes both unpublished work, and stories that first appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and Esquire.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. (May)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 19, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
Mrs. Ruth Faniglia
210 Lester Way
Rochester, NY 14623
Dear Mrs. Faniglia,
We were very sorry to receive your letter of 23 Feb., which accompanied the I CAN SPEAK!(tm) you returned, much to our disappointment. We here at KidLuv believe that the I CAN SPEAK!(tm) is an innovative and essential educational tool that, used with proper parental guidance, offers a rare early-development opportunity for babies and toddlers alike. And so I thought I would take some of my personal time (I am on lunch) and try to ad-dress the questions you raised in your letter, which is here in front of me on my (cluttered!) desk.
First, may I be so bold as to suggest that some of your dis-appointment may stem from your own, perhaps unreasonable, expectations? Because in your letter, what you indicated, when I read it? Was that you think and/or thought that somehow the product can read your baby's mind? Our product can-not read your baby's mind, Mrs. Faniglia. No one can read a baby's mind. At least not yet. Although we are probably work-ing on it! What the I CAN SPEAK!(tm) can do, however, is recognize familiar aural patterns and respond to these patterns in a way that makes baby seem older. Say baby sees a peach. If you or Mr. Faniglia (I hope I do not presume) were to loudly say something like: "What a delicious peach!" the I CAN SPEAK!(tm), hearing this, through that hole, that little slotted hole near the neck, might respond by saying something like: "I like peach." Or: "I want peach." Or, if you had chosen the ICS2000 (which you did not, you chose the ICS1900, which is fine, perfectly good for most babies) the I CAN SPEAK!(tm) might even respond by saying something like: "Fruit, isn't that one of the major food groups?"
Which would be pretty good for a six-month-old, don't you think, which my Warranty Response Card shows is the age of your son Derek, Derek Faniglia?
But here I must reiterate: That would not in reality be Derek speaking. Derek would not in reality know that a peach is fruit, or that fruit is a major food group. The I CAN SPEAK!(tm) knows it, however, and, from its position on Derek's face, gives the illusion that Derek knows it, by giving the illusion that Derek is speaking out of its twin moving SimuLips(tm). But that is it. That is all we claim.
Furthermore, in your letter, Mrs. Faniglia, you state that the I CAN SPEAK!(tm) "mask" (your terminology) takes on a "stressed-out look when talking that is not what a real baby's talking face appears like but is more like some nervous middle-aged woman." Well, maybe that is so, but with all due respect (and I say this with affection), you try it! You try making a latex face look and talk and move like the real face of an actual live baby! Inside are over 5,000 separate circuits and 390 moving parts. And as far as looking like a middle-aged woman, we beg to differ. We do not feel that a middle-aged stressed-out woman has (1) no hair on head and (2) chubby cheeks and (3) fine downy facial hair. The ICS1900 unit is definitely the face of a baby, Mrs. Faniglia, we took over 2,500 photos of different babies and, using a computer, combined them to make this face on your unit, and on everybody else's unit, the face we call Male Composite 37 or, affectionately, "Little Roger." But what you possibly seem to be unhappy about is the fact that Little Roger's face is not Derek's face? To be frank, Mrs. Faniglia, many of you, our customers, have found it disconcerting that their baby looks different with the I CAN SPEAK!(tm) on, than with the I CAN SPEAK!(tm) off. Which we find so surprising. Did you not, we often wonder, look at the cover of the box? The ICS1900 is very plainly shown, situated on a sort of rack, looking facewise like Little Roger, albeit Little Roger is a bit crumpled and has a forehead furrow of sorts.