BOOK REVIEW: Tenth Of December by George Saunders

23 Jan

Tenth Of December

“If it’s broke, don’t fix it. Even if it is broke, leave it alone, you’ll probably make it worse.”

 Review by Dino Parenti

 

At one point the narrator-father of the story, The Semplica Girls Diary, makes the exasperated claim: Limitations so frustrating. A more candid alternate title for George Saunder’s latest story collection, Tenth of December, couldn’t be more apropos, for at the core of this superb collection hums all the silent gnashings of inferiority and inadequacy, of characters thwarted by systems, by deficiency, by war against a presumed spiteful universe pulling out the rug for their temerity to try and rise above their stations.

But try they do throughout this recent series of ten tales. And while several hint to subtle, future dystopias, this is a collection that for the most part veers from the magical realism and alternate-world implications inherent in Saunders’s previous compilations such as CivilWarLand in Bad Decline or Pastorali. Most of Tenth of December’s tales reside squarely in suburbia where its residents smile through the distempers of economic disparity seething beneath. Where the shortcomings sown by over-or-under-coddling ripen in adulthood, and either nourish their progeny, or wilt on the vine beforehand[CONTINUE READING]

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