Saturday, July 14, 2007

In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

“Slap it up your wack!”
Saunders has written a collection of hyperactive, highly post modern short stories which fall somewhere between Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, and Chuck Palahniuk. They shout, sing and dance their way across the pages, and are, frankly, delightful, funny, sad and cynical. Characters include ghosts, Jesus freaks, puppets, a Slap-O-Wack bar, market research subjects, monkeys, salesmen, television show characters, and even a talking orange.

Some of the tales are a bit tedious, or make their points with all the subtlety of a meat cleaver, but others are complex and beautifully written. The one about a bad Christmas among Chicago’s working class and the tale of the two old women both come to mind.

Generally, the social commentary rails against consumerism and advertising, but there are a host of other modern dilemmas that crop up here in various guises, some deep and involved, some quickly sketched from the notebook of a 10th grader infatuated with Ad-Busters.

Lots to like here, and I’m eager to read more of what Saunders has written.

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