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Publisher's Summary

Since its publication in 1996, George Saunders’ debut collection has grown in esteem from a cherished cult classic to a masterpiece of the form, inspiring an entire generation of writers along the way. In six stories and a novella, Saunders hatches an unforgettable cast of characters, each struggling to survive in an increasingly haywire world. 

With a new introduction by Joshua Ferris and a new author’s note by Saunders himself, this edition is essential listening for those seeking to discover or revisit a virtuosic, disturbingly prescient voice.

Praise for George Saunders and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline:

“It’s no exaggeration to say that short story master George Saunders helped change the trajectory of American fiction.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“Saunders’s satiric vision of America is dark and demented; it’s also ferocious and very funny.” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

“George Saunders is a writer of arresting brilliance and originality, with a sure sense of his material and apparently inexhaustible resources of voice. [CivilWarLand in Bad Decline] is scary, hilarious, and unforgettable.” (Tobias Wolff)

“Saunders makes the all-but-impossible look effortless.” (Jonathan Franzen)

“Not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny.” (Zadie Smith)

“An astoundingly tuned voice - graceful, dark, authentic, and funny - telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times.” (Thomas Pynchon)

©1996 George Saunders (P)2019 Random House Audio

What listeners say about CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

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Gold

I love George Saunders' work. Imaginative and beautiful works of morale reckoning and not.

All aspiring writers need read the author's note which comes with the audio version. The book is read by Saunders, and, I like to think, he's playing guitar to his music.

It's insightful to contrast his voice in memior with that of his fictional characters. Authenticity is among his style's strengths in both. Sweetest succor in the times of Boris Trump.

I have a dream that one day I might meet Mr. Saunders, and in shock that he doesn't have a shaft of blue light coming from the top of his head, I shamefully piss myself.

7 people found this helpful

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Favorite author. Favorite narrator.

I have been waiting years and years for Saunders to read his earlier work. So happy to see both CWIBD as well as Pastoralia now available, read by the author. Thank you for taking the time to read these George. You are the best.

3 people found this helpful

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Wha?

How anyone could enjoy this book, in particular this dry & monotone reading of it, is beyond me. I thought that, as a series of short stories, at least a few of them had to be good. Was I ever wrong. The only decent writing was in the forward, by another writer. And on that note, Mark Twain must be rolling over at any comparison between him and Saunders. Twain had more clever satire in his pinky toe than what can be found in this (IMHO) waste of an Audible credit.

1 person found this helpful

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>>BUCKLE. UP.<<

George Saunders did not come here to play. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline is not here to enchant you with crisp prose (but the writing is unbeatably lean, clean, & deliciously wry), nor is it here to win you over with tart chuckles from firecracker sui generis characters (but each character is so rich with bizarre idiosyncrasies and strange hungers that you just keep leaning forward in your seat like, “How dreadful! Then what happened?”)— no, Saunders is here to serve up barely-there tales and to leverage the dry, hysterical, unhinged-cringe testimonies of the denizens of these collapsing twilight worlds and sundry dystopian theme parks; and in doing so, Saunders is here to participate in a tradition of his own design that shoves fabulist realism and grimed humor into the close quarters of short form fiction in such a way that (not unlike the mastery of Ursula K. Le Guin) we are viscerally dislocated from our own world grooves in a way that awaken and rattle us through the disarming power of comedy and (truly) sheer weirdness: and in the process, we cling to the only structures we understand and, in doing so, know them for the first time. (Be advised also that trigger warnings apply, as well as hefty allowances for cultural dialogues written in the 1990s that are clearly trying to rehearse and progress discussions of sensitive topics, including racial violence, PTSD, and disability.) If cringe and grime are not your jam, this George Saunders collection may not be your best fit— but! definitely your best bet if you’re a fan of the short fictions of Hemingway, Pynchon, and Vonnegut and cannot get enough richly imagined sardonic narrators writing from world after flawed world that makes so little sense, it’s glittering logic, welcome home, and hold onto something.

1 person found this helpful

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Nope. Just can’t care.

I tried to read this collection to the end, but I just couldn’t care about anything he was writing. I don’t know what all the acclaim is about. He writes well enough, but his subject matter just doesn’t matter.

A waste of time.

1 person found this helpful