Monday, 20 March 2017

civil war land in bad decline [george saunders]

Saunders' short stories have a rebarbative, offbeat feel. The prose is abrasive, occasionally challenging. The author creates unusual, surreal american worlds where surprisingly normal sounding people struggle with demented situations. In Bounty, the longest story, a man born with a deformity which means he belongs to the flawed sector of a world divided by a new form of apartheid sets out on a journey across the country to rescue his lost sister. The journey looks both backwards and forwards: at once an allegory for an escaped slave but also a terrible vision of a post apocalyptic USA. It's The Road meets Gravity's Rainbow meets Native Son, told in a sparse 80 pages. The US has become a kind of theme park in Saunders' imagination, something to be cannibalised for entertainment purposes. It’s a dystopian vision, and the clanking prose seems like part of this; even the language people use to communicate has become mechanised, atonal.

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