some books, i don’t really know what to say, except that i know genius when i read it.
this book of short stories gives a person more to think about life than a rack full of self-help books. Saunders is telling us crucial things about contemporary life in some funny, bitter, outrageous, out-there ways that (at least to my limited skill) defy description.
i guess the most accurate thing i can say about his work is that each story is like a zen koan–just when you think you’ve got a grip on it, it morphs into something deeper, and you find yourself at square one, rethinking the whole experience.
if you’re looking for some Raymond Carver-esque read, in which there is probably one identifiable epiphany per story and you can put a finger on it, this is not the book for you. Saunders is more squirrelly than that, and definitely weirder. but if you’re after an experience that will stick with you for years, Saunders is your man. (one story in this book, “Jon,” has been pestering me since 2003).
he’s a master. at what, exactly, i don’t think i can say. but i defy you to walk away from his work unaffected, failing to see our world in a new and often deeply unnerving light.