The stories were very compelling and memorable - Tenth of December (the last story) was truly a great story. I wasn't as fond of the stories that were more science fiction in nature.
Some authors should NOT narrate their own work and George Saunders is one of them. While the voice he used for some of the characters was adequate, his narrations of female characters were truly annoying. Moreover, his diction is horrendous. I found myself having to rewind and replay passages several times so that I could understand the words. Right after finishing this audible book I listened to two other books with professional narrators and the difference was astonishing.
This is a great book and worth the literary hype, but better to read than to listen to. Another suggestion is to redo this as an audio book with a professional narrator.
Unafraid to read from any genre.
I found the stories in this volume at the least, interesting and very creative, and at most, touching and telling of all the problems we Americans face in our American world. None of the characters in George Saunders' universe feel a sense of confidence or control in the way we are often used to from story protagonists. Instead, they struggle with the deluge of concerns, sometimes frightening and sometimes comically absurd, that we recognize in our own experiences. I think what makes this set of stories so telling is the way they connect with us as members of a strange (and often crazy) modern society, reflecting back into our gaze all the things we do and think: the conceits, the follies, the frustrations, the terrors, and the small acts of heroism.
Saunders narrates his own stories here, and I think he does a brilliant job illuminating the subtle elements, as only an author might. The stories are so layered and rife with comic detail that some other speaker would have to spend a great deal of time thinking through every intonation in order to do the book justice.
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!
Undeniably the best book I have read or listened to in a decade.
Short stories require the lightest touch, while developing characters and narratives in a very short time. I listened to this and laughed out loud, stopped in the middle of a walk to listen carefully, so very carefully, to the beauty of the language.
Description - hmmm. Maybe better to read the NY Times interview/conversation with George Saunders. Simple stated, stories that put a finger on the pulse of our times interspersed with tempo changes that either ground the stories in reality or allow them to soar into a kind of magical realism.
I felt heard and seen in the landscape as I listened to this astounding creation.
Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.
Saunders' characters struggle with issues we've all faced - or will face sometime in our lifetime: sorrow and loss, wanting to give more than we have to our children, conquering our deepest fears in order to do what we know is the right thing. But the settings of his stories are weirdly futuristic, and only somewhat recognizable. Saunders is a great narrator.
This is probably the best audiobook I've experienced.
The characters are so intensely personal. I identified closely with so many of them.
Just listen to it. Some of the best storytelling I've ever heard.
Hearing a story as the author hears it in his own head is a rare treat. Saunders brings life to each of his characters on the page, but he talks the talk, too, with subtle and delicate differences among narrative voices as well as character dialogue-- both internal and in speech.
The breadth of characters in the very first story immediately engages the reader in the collections masterful acts of compassion and interpretation. This story makes room for dramatic differences in situation and inner landscape, uniting a naively optimistic young girl of beauty and privilege, an awkward and parentally- oppressed young guy, and a sometimes- self-aware would-be rapist, with voices raw and relatable and palpable dramatic tension. Saunders's characters manage to be understandable and condemnable by turns, and they flesh out real situations of humiliation and triumph that are deeply human and artfully rendered.
The first and last stories bookend the collection perfectly, framing the themes of intervention and self-actualization that define each of the stories individually and the collection at large.
Saunders is as good a reader as he is a writer. The quality of the stories as well as the performance make this listen a real treat.
Astonishing. Utterly compelling. I usually don't like to read short stories, but because of the reviews I just had to pick this one up. I'm going to buy the hard copy and probably listen to it again off and on for years...
As I said in my headline, I wish I rather had the book in hand. The author uses many current colloquialisms with which I'm not familiar (that shows my age!) and I would have liked to see them. The stories are good: bizarre, contemporary 'problems', esp. of parenting; that I liked.
I was not always sure who was talking
What I said above, applies to this book. Otherwise I am an avid audible.com listener.
I thought it was a little over the top for the New York Times to make that claim in the first half of January 2013, but having read Tenth of December I'm inclined to agree (even though it is still only February). I don't usually care for short stories because I like the slow reveal and the long involvement of a novel, but this collection is extraordinary. Saunders captures unique narrator voices that spring these unexpected characters to life in just the few pages allowed them. Pithy, relevant, economical, dark, and in the end fiercely hopeful. I won't say anything more. These stories are short and part of their glory is their punch, undiluted by even the faintest spoiler. Just do it.