Pastoralia

Pastoralia

Stories

Book - 2000
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His remarkable first collection of stories was hailed by The New York Times as "the debut of an exciting new voice in fiction." Garrison Keillor called him "wildly funny, pure, generous'all that a great humorist should be." With this new collection, George Saunders takes us even further into the shocking, uproarious and oddly familiar landscape of his imagination.The stories in Pastoralia are set in a slightly skewed version of America, where elements of contemporary life have been merged, twisted, and amplified, casting their absurdity'and our humanity'in a startling new light. Whether he writes a gothic morality tale in which a male exotic dancer is haunted by his maiden aunt from beyond the grave, or about a self-help guru who tells his followers his mission is to discover who's been "crapping in your oatmeal," Saunders's stories are both indelibly strange and vividly real. George Saunders has been identified as a writer in the tradition of Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut?"a savage satirist with a sentimental streak," said The New York Times. In this new collection, Saunders brings greater wisdom and maturity to the worldview he established with CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, leaving no doubt about his place as the brilliant successor to these writers.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Riverhead : 2000
ISBN: 9781573221610
1573221619
Branch Call Number: FIC Saun
Characteristics: 188p

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seabun
Nov 29, 2017

Intended to just read "Sea Oak", a requirement for school, enjoyed the story enough to read the rest of this collection. For me, while I found portions of each tale funny, sad, interesting and/or gripping, it was really a few that left me wanting more and really moved, while the others were just okay. Other than Sea Oak, which I've seen might be a show on Amazon now, the stories I really liked, namely because I wanted to know more, to keep reading, were "The End of FIRPO in the World" and "The Barber's Unhappiness." Each were quite short, and I felt great disappointment upon turning the last page only to see the next story starting. In their brevity, Saunders captivated my attention with colorful, exaggerated-yet-familiar, fully articulated characters that I felt a connection to, laughed at their idiosyncrasies and felt pangs of sadness at their flaws. I found myself thinking about them long after putting the book down, which to me is a sign the author did something right.
Of the other two stories, "The Falls" was intriguing if a little unfulfilling. It felt the most incomplete, perhaps? And lastly, the titular "Pastoralia", being the longest tale, surely encapsulated an entire world and the faceless bosses, only referenced through rambling funny faxes, were infuriating in their incompetence, as well as their familiarity.
This was my first introduction to George Saunders, and I can't say I'd have ever come across this book without my school's nudge, but I am glad I did. Definitely want to read at least one more Saunders collection to see what else he comes up with. My only real critique or hesitation would be that the humor of the satire was almost uniformly outweighed by the despair, the sadness, the utter hopelessness of some of the characters' situations, which can be at times a little overwhelming. I don't mind dystopian tales, having recently thoroughly enjoyed Alexander Weinstein's "Children of the New World," but maybe I prefer a little more hope or ha-ha with my long looks in the mirror.

n
nbradley2
Jul 24, 2017

This short story collection is chock-full of wild, satirical tales with a sharp emotional edge. As always, Saunders writes with a mastery of voice, pacing, and intrigue. Though his stories are often a bit vulgar and grisly, Saunders always writes with a strong intent to make you feel things, and not just shock. Most short stories end on an 'open' note that, I think, forces you to evaluate your emotions at the end of the story; I am still wrestling with I how I felt reading some of these stories weeks later.

I will recommend this collection (and all other Saunders works) until the day I die.

p
paul5151
Jan 04, 2016

To paraphrase Saunders "why are the losers in this world being kicked so hard when they're down?" Satire my friends.k

l
lukasevansherman
Mar 30, 2013

Saunders is maybe the most acclaimed short story writer currently working, although I am struggling to figure out why. I just read his latest collection, "Tenth of December," and couldn't get into it. I feel the same way about this earlier book. I think the ideal audience are those who find the irony-heavy humor of "McSweeney's" enjoyable. I just don't get this guy.

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