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Words, Worlds, Whorls

A place where I write reviews and keep track of what I want to read or have already read.

Tenth of December: Stories

Tenth of December - George Saunders I first encountered George Saunders in college, when we read his short story "Puppy" and I immediately fell in love. I'm not even sure what it is about his writing I appreciate so much. His characters spend a lot of time in their own heads, imagining what may or may not happen. They are juxtaposed to show the stark contrast of power, status, and/or opinions. Take the two women in Puppy, for example. Both consider themselves loving, attentive family caregivers in their own ways. There is something about their conflicting viewpoints that draws the reader in. I'm not usually a fan of morality-examining stories, but Saunders does not force the reader into a prescribed "moral" opinion; instead he presents both sides and leaves the ending rather open."Escape from Spiderhead" was another story from this collection that I really enjoyed. It is another story of moral ambiguity; Jeff, in a fit of youthful, testosterone-driven rage killed another young man, and now is coerced into medical experimentation. He is there completely by choice, but when his other choice is rotting in prison, what real choice does he actually have. And things only get worse from there, as he is subjected to some rather extreme medications that cause him to feel a wide variety of emotions and impulses.Unfortunately, Saunders' stories often feel like different variations of the same recipe. Take one cup moral ambiguity, add two tablespoons introspection, bring to a boil, let simmer for twenty pages, add seasoning to taste. There are few stories in the collection, which was a relief. Two or three more of the same sort of narrative and I would have gotten bored. Saunders, however, continues to be one of my favourite short story authors, if not my number one favourite.