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“Not many can pull off absurdity balanced with delicacy. This third collection shows the author's skill at exaggerating pop-psychology, corporate human potential babble we
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Following his superb story collectionsCivilwarland in Bad Decline(1996) andPastoralia(1999), as well as last year's novellaThe Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, Saunders reaffirms his sharp, surreal vision of contemporary, media-saturated life, but keeps most of the elements within his familiar bandwidth. In the sweetly acerbic "My Flamboyant Grandson," a family trip through Times Square is overwhelmed by pop-up advertisements. In "Jon," orphans get sold to a market research firm and become famous as "Tastemakers & Trendsetters" (complete with trading cards). "CommComm" concerns an air force PR flunky living with the restless souls of his parents while covering for a spiraling crisis at work. The more conventionally grounded stories are the most compelling: one lingers over a bad Christmas among Chicago working stiffs, another follows a pair of old Russian-Jewish women haunted by memories of persecution. Others collapse under the weight of too much wit (the title story especially), and a few are little more than exercises in patience ("93990," "My Amendment"). But Saunders's vital theme—the persistence of humanity in a vacuous, nefarious marketing culture of its own creation—comes through with subtlety and fresh turns.(May)
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ISBN-10: 159448922X
ISBN-13: 978-1594489228
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover

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