Tag Archives: George Saunders

Fox 8 by George Saunders. Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal

Fox 8 by George Saunders Title: Fox 8
Author: George Saunders
Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 978-1526606488
Genre: Satire, Fiction, Fable for Adults
Pages: 64
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

There are some books that just nestle into your heart and stay there. For me, those have been the likes of An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami, The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Capote, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. You get the drift, don’t you? These are the kind of books that can be read to soothe me, when I am feeling down. I am certain we all have these kind of books – the ones that make everything alright, just by opening them and reading – over and over again. Fox 8 by George Saunders is the latest addition to my ever-growing list of “heartwarming” books. (I hate the use of the word heartwarming, my apologies).

I love Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo though is my least favourite book written by him, though it won the Man Booker Prize and all that). His short fiction is par excellence, his essays even better in my opinion, and basically whatever he writes is pure gold. Fox 8 is no less of a book because of its size. If anything, after you are done reading it, you tend to agree that it had to end, where it did, even if you wanted more of it.

Fox 8 - Image 1

Read more: In Appreciation of George Saunders

This 64-page novella/novelette is about a fox – the name is Fox 8 who is curious about humans (poor sad fox. I for one can’t stand most humans) and also learns some of the English language, by watching parents read to their children (I love how the fox also debunks fairy tales for us with reference to the role of the fox in them). Saunders is in his full form with inventiveness of language – writing (phonetically) the way a fox would – yooman and not human, bare and not bear, and the list goes on. At first, you wonder about the writing style and when you give in, you are in love with this fantastical tale of two foxes visiting a mall (that has been built razing most of their forest) and what happens next.

Fox 8 - Image 2Read more: George Saunders’s 10 Favourite Books

Before I forget, kudos and more to Chelsea Cardinal for the illustrations that go so well with the story. The illustrations are all black and white, except the foxes – they are in orange and stunning would perhaps be a lesser adjective to use. Saunders’ story is telling of our times – of the way we inhabit spaces and make of them to how endangered our wild life really is – and all of this is said with the eccentric and almost witty (in this one at least), true blue Saunders style.

Fox 8 is heartwarming, also heart-wrenching, makes you look at the world we have made and why and question almost every decision – which I think we must. At the same time, it makes a spot in your heart and will not go away. I am very happy that it was the first read of the year for me. Read it. It is truly beautifully done.

You can buy Fox 8 by George Saunders here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Appreciation of Saunders

george-saunders

Ever since I have read George Saunders I have been in awe of his writing. I may not have enjoyed Lincoln in the Bardo the way I thought I would, but that’s hardly of concern when it comes to appreciating Saunders’ works. I think the beauty of Saunders beside the writing, is his capacity to create characters that are regular – they are flawed, broken, and perhaps have no capacity to be extraordinary and yet strangely enough they are.

Also, might I add the skill with which he writes or rather crafts a story. After Munro, if there is any other short-story writer I truly admire, it is him. Whether it is the idea of the fantastical merging with everyday living, or just the irony of getting through the day, Saunders literally saves a reading-slump-kind-of-day. You just have to read any short story written by him and it is worth it – every single word and every sentence.

Pastoralia was introduced to me by a friend and I cannot thank the friend enough. This collection of short-stories embodies the twisted, the lonely, and the post-modern version of American – served hot and ready to be slaughtered. Whether he talks about a couple living in a theme-park, where speaking is an offence (rings a bell given the times we live in?), or whether he is speaking of a male exotic dancer and his family, Saunders shows us a world that is funny and yet so scary, so familiar and strange, but above-all, so authentic and graceful in its prose.

Pastoralia

I must speak of The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil here. This slim book is literally a tour-de-force (I know this word is way overused, however, I can’t help but use it for this one). This is the book about power-hungry, and demagogic Phil (again can’t help but relate it to the times we live in) and how his reign begins as people from one nation run into another for asylum.

Phil

Saunders has always sort of been prophetic when it comes to his stories, and whatever he chooses to write about really. Whether it is Tenth of December or In Persuasion Nation, both fantastic short-story collections, Saunders is on the top of his game, never missing a beat. His people are lost, maybe not even seeking redemption – all they want is their stories to be told, voices to be heard, and sometimes remain in the shadows battling their demons.

Tenth of December

The Brain-Dead Megaphone is perhaps one of the best collection of essays I have read in a long time. It is his first collection of essays and has trained himself to look at the real – ridden with a strangeness – in the political and cultural milieu. I loved the literary pieces in this book – Saunders’ view on Mark Twain, Vonnegut, and Barthelme – every essay is on point and showcases all the skewed characters chosen by the author.

Megaphone

This, I think in a very brief manner encapsulates his body of work that I have enjoyed and loved over the years. He is one writer that never disappoints and constantly delivers, no matter what. Read him and allow yourself to be taken in by his eccentric, mad, most illuminating prose.

Congratulations, by the Way by George Saunders

Congratulations by the Way Title: Congratulations, By the Way
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1408859346
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 64
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

It is a small book. It is something that you will perhaps read in half an hour. It is the kind of book though that will remain in your subconscious forever. It is an essay. It is a Commencement speech given by George Saunders at Syracuse University in May 2013. The speech is about kindness, about what it means to be kind and perhaps the only regrets he has ever had have been those when he was not kind to people.

“Congratulations, By the Way” is a book which will make you reflect and wonder about life and its worth. The book does not proclaim to teach you anything and maybe if you want to, you will probably not learn anything from it either. But I also think that kindness is something which is inherent, and yet most of us fail miserably, at being kind.

The book is simply written and is just about being kind to one another and if possible, also to oneself. We also tend to forget sometimes how important it is to be kind to oneself. I will most certainly reread this book and also will recommend it to people – so that we never forget to be kind.

Here is the video of the speech:

387 Short Stories: Day 49 to Day 53: Stories Read

This is another set of stories read, from Day 49 to Day 53. From tomorrow, that is the 1st of February 2014, a new set will start.

The Collected Short Stories by Jean Rhys

387 Short Stories: Day 49: Story 49: In a Café by Jean Rhys
Taken from the Collection: The Collected Stories

In a Café is a story by Jean Rhys, which just like her books and stories touches on the topic of women being used by men. It is a sad story. It is about Phoebe and the life she thinks she was meant for and the life she comes to lead. It is about sexuality and about possession and about using women.

Rhys’s stories are born from an inner stream of consciousness. She saw. She felt. She made a note. She wrote. Her stories are strong. They are sad. They are weak. They are beautifully written nonetheless.

Gryphon and Other Stories

387 Short Stories: Day 50: Story 50: Poor Devil by Charles Baxter
Taken from the Collection: Gryphon and Other Stories

If you have not read, “The Feast of Love” by Charles Baxter, his most beautiful novel on love and loss, then I suggest you go and place an order for it right now and devour it. Till the time the book gets delivered, you read a short story by him called, “Poor Devil”.

This is from the collection, “Gryphon” and is about a couple heading for divorce. The couple is self-destructive and the story is succinctly told. He describes love, passion and its destruction just like Raymond Carver or at least that is what I think.

A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom

387 Short Stories: Day 51: Story 51: A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom
Taken from the collection: A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You and Other Stories

The title story which I read is about a mom who is determined to see her daughter through a sex-change operation. To me the story is written very sensitively and with a lot of passion. The idea that a mother can see through a child go through a sex-change operation says a lot about her determination and support and to me that was enough. Nothing else needed to be told then and it goes without saying that the story has been beautifully told, not trivializing it or making it too sentimental.

Tenth of December

387 Short Stories: Day 52: Story 52: Tenth of December by George Saunders
Taken from the collection: Tenth of December: Stories

George Saunders’ stories shine on every single page with reference to plot, style, imagery and the way his characters turn out to be. The stories are not only dark and funny but also touching. He completes the cycle of storytelling the way it should be done, without making the reader uncomfortable or getting too familiar with emotions displayed. He tunes in the living of today and what has happened in the past, and maybe that is why every single reader would be able to relate to what he writes.

I loved the title story, “Tenth of December” and only for that alone, I could give it five stars. It is about a character who walks into the December woods wanting to die, before becoming a burden on his family. Stories such as these make you wonder about the power in Saunders’s writing. It breathes everyday living infused with its tragedy and humour.

The Isle of Youth by Laura van den Berg

387 Short Stories: Day 53: Story 53: I Looked For You, I Called Your Name by Laura van den Berg
Taken from the Collection: The Isle of Youth

“I Looked for You, I Called Your Name” is about the woman discovering her husband’s personality and in the wake of that, her relationship is riddled with doubt and she also begins to understand herself. The nature of the setting, Patagonia in this case also lends to the fragility of the story. For me, what worked the most was the sudden bleakness you are witness to throughout the stories and yet somewhere down the line, there is the underlined hope that is subtle and exquisitely written about.

Book Review: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Tenth of December by George Saunders Title: Tenth of December
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1-4088-4666-7
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I should be ashamed of myself of not having heard of George Saunders before reading this book. “Tenth of December” by George Saunders is a collection of stories that is brilliant at every single level. The stories are dark, funny and I can safely say that if you ever have to read a short story collection this year, then this will be the book that you will and must read.

George Saunders’ stories shine on every single page with reference to plot, style, imagery and the way his characters turn out to be. The stories are not only dark and funny but also touching. He completes the cycle of storytelling the way it should be done, without making the reader uncomfortable or getting too familiar with emotions displayed. He tunes in the living of today and what has happened in the past, and maybe that is why every single reader would be able to relate to what he writes.

I was a little skeptical about it to begin with. The first story also did not do much for me. However, from the second story on, the entire collection took on a different pace. I loved the title story, “Tenth of December” and only for that alone, I could give it five stars. It is about a character who walks into the December woods wanting to die, before becoming a burden on his family. Stories such as these make you wonder about the power in Saunders’s writing. It breathes everyday living infused with its tragedy and humour.

The entire collection makes you assess and reassess life and very few books manage to do that. The stories are devastatingly beautiful and extremely powerful. Be prepared to take your breath after every story, before moving on to the next one. They reek of the times we live in and a great combination of the hopeful and the hopeless, which works with me as a reader. After all the human condition can never be black or white. Go on and buy the book. Read it and love every word he writes.

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