Monday, March 11, 2013
Nog's Brief Thoughts on Saunders and Tenth of December
I'm pleased to pompously report that I've been on board with Saunders since the very beginning. I loved CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia and In Persuasion Nation and their vision of "theme-park America" as portrayed in simultaneously hilarious/vicious stories of the lower/middle class at the mercy of all manner of corporate/New Age doublespeak and (sometimes) medical experimentation. I'm not sure how much Saunders has evolved over the years in his writing or if he just emerged fully formed. I suppose some of the stories in Tenth of December might have a little more emotional heft than the early work, and maybe a bit more hope, but mostly we're in familiar Saunders territory here and, for my money, that's just fine. The stories are still terrific.
I'd say the strongest two are Escape from Spiderland (poor sap victimized by emotional manipulation via new drugs, though Verbaluce actually sounds pretty cool: I'd try it) and The Semplica Girl Diaries (young women from poor countries physically exploited--via yard decoration!-- as a sign of American success).
I LOVE Saunders' fake reality show titles:
America's Most Outspoken Dirt Bikers
I, Gropius (described as a "show where guy decides which girl to date based on feeling girls' breasts through screen with two holes").
Kill the Ho (from the collection In Persuasion Nation).
Favorite all-time Saunders' stories:
"Sea Oak" --from Pastoralia ("Look, show your cock. It's the shortest line between two points. The world ain't giving away nice lives. You got a trust fund? You a genius? Show your cock. It's what you got...And also: don't remember me like this. Remember me like how I was that night we all went to Red Lobster and I had that new perm.").
"Jon" --from In Persuasion Nation (very similar to "Escape from Spiderland")
Picture: Saunders and dog (via interview with Robert Birnbaum)