I would never be able to answer this question, but I can say this: George Saunders reads his own book in the way that I always wish authors could do. I'm not sure even my favorite actors could have spoken from inside these characters in this hilarious and poignant manner.
George Saunders reads his own book in the way that I always wish authors could do. I'm not sure even my favorite actors could have spoken from inside these characters in this hilarious and poignant manner.
Yes. The stories had interesting forms, moving ideas, and revealed a sensitive portrayal of the ordinary human being.
The quirky style and the heartfelt understanding of people.
His own accent, his midwestern rhythm of speech, his own portrayal of the characters as he imagined them.
This may be a great book with great stories but I will never know because I had to turn it off after about 30 minutes. George Saunders may be a great writer but I will bet most listeners will not last the whole book.
You might think an author reading his own words would lend some magic or special understanding to the work (think Dylan Thomas or Stephen King or Garrison Keillor) but not in this case. He may know just what to emphasize or just where to go quiet, but he is inept as a reader, in my opinion. Saunders reads so fast that whole passages are lost. He reads with such a pronounced lisp that words mash together in a syllabant stew, losing even more meaning. I'm NOT making fun of his speech pattern but it is so annoying to listen to it makes me think he (or the publisher) should have chosen someone with a pleasant voice that conveys the emotion as well as the meaning of the words.
It's really too bad because this is probably one of those books that works better in print than on audio. The media is touting this as one of the best books of the year but I suggest you get the real book, even an e-book, but skip the audio.
I found the narration to be pretty good. With a few exceptions, I like it when authors read their own material. I think he did a good job with pacing and tone.
To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this book. The first couple of stories are good because they are fresh and new, especially for a first-time Saunders listener. The plots are intriguing and presented in a good way - a key word here, a phrase there - like slowing opening a present by the corners. But it just started getting repetitive. The characters seemed so similar, their situations were different in the details but not that different in the nature of the conflict. The internal conversations of the characters went from interesting and entertaining to repetitive and predictable. A couple of times while I was listening in my car, I found myself talking to the narration saying, "Yes, I get it. Move on!"
It seems like a lot of people like this book, so who am I to say. I don't usually write reviews, but wanted to give me thoughts, for what they're worth (probably not much).
Saunders is a formalist who loves to play with form. He is also funny, also witty. His characters are put through excruciating trials. They are often not bright. They are very earnest. Their relatives and bosses are often not bright, and are often also earnest. Everyone in these stories is suspended somewhere below the middle of a brutal pecking order.
But unlike other sardonic cool guys who are better and smarter than their characters (I'm looking at you, Sam Lipsyte), Saunders is not cruel. In fact, these stories are suffused with empathy and tenderness. Even while admiring some amazing feat of form or concept, I often found myself, halted on my morning walk, in tears for these characters.
I've only read Saunders in the occasional story he publishes in the The New Yorker, and have always relished their strange richness. A whole book of these stories is quite a bit more rich, and strange, so I listened to just one or two at a time. Not just because there's a lot to think about, but because there's also a lot to feel about.
Yes! The stories are so distilled in such a smart way and reveal things often in non chronological order, so I feel like listening to them again would lead to new insights.
I love the way that Saunders writes sci fi that seems wholly believable in the context of his "real world", which at times is magical with no fantasy element at all. His writing is concise and witty, and all of the stories are fast paced and felt fully formed, even though I would have loved to have read a novel-length version of ANY of them. You definitely get a sense of Saunders' technical past in his writing, although, while everything was smart and complex, nothing ever seemed overly complex at all.
The title story was BEAUTIFUL, and I loved The SG Diaries and Escape from Spiderhead.
Escape from Spiderhead totally captivated me. It makes huge statements as well as tiny, personal ones about the ways that humans fool ourselves into believing we are autonomous at all.
I really can't imagine that anybody would hate listening to this... It's funny, tragic, smart and strange. Probably one of my favorite short story collections ever!
I don't listen to books twice but this one is like theater.the author seems as good an actor as he is a writer
The beauty of this book is that there is no other book that compares to it. Well, Maybe catcher in The rye, huck finn, but this book is just as good! Yes it is that classic, that universal, that inciteful.
.the author seems as good an actor as he is a writer.
My reaction at first was so horrifyingly anxious that I had to put the book down until I felt i had the strength to deal with the outcome! What power!
Saunders KNOWS the mind of his characters. He disappears and only they remain. A book like this comes only rarely in a lifetime, in mine anyway. I hope not the author's.
No duds to be found in this short story collection. What I like is how unassuming the 'tagonists are. (They aren't really 'pro-' or 'ant-'.) Many of the characters have a fragile psyche and plenty of self-doubt and guilt for everyone. The prose remains fascinating and unpredictable, juxtaposing an impressive vocabulary with the simple internalizing that usually goes unspoken. As with any writer, it was cool to see recurring themes, phrases, and concepts that he circled back to, and yet I never knew where each story was ultimately headed. There was social commentary, sci-fi, po-mo, slice-of-life family drama set in the near future, and ultimately a large amount of creativity. I also found a few of his articles in the New Yorker to be entertaining/thought-provoking. He reads his own work well, and sounds good sped up to the 1.25 setting.
Almost all the stories were downers! I ddin't know when one story stopped and another began. I abhorred the style of writing, couldn't follow one story after another. I can't say enough BAD things about this book and wonder how in the world it has become a best seller with so much hype.
If the stories were better.
See above. I see no redeeming value in this type of book
avid and ardent admirer of the Arts (and alliteration)
as Mini(minimalist)Mies was wont to say....although I'm sure that Mr. Saunders has the chops to be a marvelous novelist... in this instance, i wish he had eschewed the longer form as only the novella in 10th of December seemed to me somewhat tiresome, whereas the short stories that preceded it were uniformly interesting in both form and content...he is a splendid reader (certainly, at the very least, of his own material) and i would love to hear him narrate more short stories. i would (and have) recommended this book to friends and am confident they will thank me for it.