Tenth of December: Stories

by George Saunders

Random House Publishing Group | January 8, 2013 | Kobo Edition (eBook)

Tenth of December: Stories is rated 3.3333 out of 5 by 3.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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.”

Praise for Tenth of December

“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
 
GEORGE SAUNDERS WAS NAMED ONE OF THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BY TIME MAGAZINE


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Kobo Edition (eBook)

Published: January 8, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0812993810

ISBN - 13: 9780812993813

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hit or Miss It's ironic how for a short story collection, I preferred reading George Saunders' lenghtier ones in "Tenth of December." It has to do with how there is more time and space for Saunders to flesh out his ideas and themes, which I find is his strongest suite, and the window allowed for audiences to read between the lines. His choice of words and sentence structures come across very carefree in some stories, but with others, they feel careless and quite difficult to digest. On the strength of the few memorable stories and his commencement speech "Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness", I'm still very drawn to what he has to and will offer in future works.
Date published: 2014-11-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strong Collection of Short Stories I don't often read short stories. They have to be written really, really well if they're going to grab my attention and keep it. Saunders managed to do that. I couldn't put this book of stories down...they are written in a strong voice that lingers in my mind after each story, blending into the next...until the last story makes me want to kneel down and say...I read a book of short stories and I liked it.
Date published: 2013-08-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but far from brilliant Conventional wisdom -- at least in literary circles and its mighty marketing machine -- will tell you that George Saunders' new book of short stories, Tenth of December, is the book to read this year. Other writers, including such favourites as David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers, praise him to the heavens. Critics are calling some of the stories in this book brilliant. So Saunders is a writer you just have to read. And read his book I did – up until the title story at the end, which I abandoned after about a dozen pages. The biggest flaw in Tenth of December, I found, is the obviousness of his artistic technique and the voice used by narrators in most stories. I think the best fiction (and this is true in art in general) is that in which the technique is seamless, almost invisible -- a kind of artless art. Saunders, however, likes to play around in his fictional sandlot and perhaps that’s why so many great contemporary writers and critics love him. Certainly, I appreciate and admire the scope of his imaginative landscape. Stories like The Semplica Girl Diaries and Escape from Spiderhead, perhaps the best pieces in this collection, offer crazy scenarios that will challenge the best of science fiction but they’re presented in a realistic, dare-I-say-it, almost suburban way. Especially Semplica. That story chronicles a suburban dad’s attempt to make his daughter happy on her birthday and keep up with the Joneses at the same time by purchasing real live young girls from the developing world. A wire is inserted through their heads (without injuring them, we’re told) and they’re strung up like a clothesline where they flutter in the breeze beautifully. The girls don’t come cheap though and dad doesn’t have much money. In fact, he’s deep in debt. He is saved when he wins $10,000 in a scratch-and-win card. He splurges on the Semplica girls and also buys his girl two figurines that she asked for as a present, plus a third for good measure. There are two problems with this story. First, is the narrator’s tone. He’s writing in a journal to a reader possibly in the future and while most of us recognize that this type of writing tends toward the conversational and less formal, this narrator sounds like Tarzan of the suburban jungle. Or Mr. Miyagi of The Karate Kid. Listen to his speech and the absence of verbs: “Nice for them to know good luck and happiness real and possible! In America of my time, want them to know, anything possible!” Problem number two: while few people will find fault in the narrator’s aspirations to climb the social ladder and especially give generously to his children, the materialism of his gifts is nauseating. He also gets caught up in the appearance of riches as his backyard suddenly becomes the envy of neighbours. “Nice to win, be winner, be known as winner,” he writes. Spiderhead, in the other story, is the term that occupants of a scientific experiment use to describe their Control room. It is like the head of a spider, the narrator says, and its legs are called Workrooms. When the subjects go into the Control room and work alongside a person by the name of Abnesti, it is known as the head of the spider. The narrator and others in this institution have a job and it is to have sex with some of the women in the place using a love potion. But it appears they cannot get emotionally attached to them and the relationships come with a nasty side-effect – a product called Darkenfloxx™ - which kills the women in an excruciating way. The hero of this story is much more likeable and noble and the story ends with him taking the tragic hero’s proper course. That ending also illustrates a common theme and bond that runs through many of Saunders’ tales: that of the parent and child, particular mother and son. It’s a theme we encounter in the story Home and in the frightfully wrong parenting styles of the opening story Victory Lap, a harrowing tale of a young boy’s attempt to save a teenage girl from rape. In this story, there are two kinds of helicopter parents: the ones that hover over and smother their children and those whose sharp blades cuts their kids down. That story has one of the best and most uplifting lines in the collection: “Don’t you understand…all people deserve respect? Each of us is a rainbow.” It’s the kind of line, and story, that makes you want to read the rest with satisfication. But then you get to a piece like My Chivalric Fiasco. It starts conventionally enough but you get to lines like: “Kyle departed anon. I did happily entertain our Guests, through use of Wit and various Jibes, glad that I had, after my many Travails, arrived at a station in Life from whence I could impart such Merriment to All & Sundry.” And so the narrator carries on to the end of the story, as if Shakespeare walked into the door and took over the telling of the tale.
Date published: 2013-05-31

– More About This Product –

Tenth of December: Stories

by George Saunders

Format: Kobo Edition (eBook)

Published: January 8, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0812993810

ISBN - 13: 9780812993813

From the Publisher

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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.”

Praise for Tenth of December

“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
 
GEORGE SAUNDERS WAS NAMED ONE OF THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BY TIME MAGAZINE


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