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Publisher's Summary

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.

In the taut opener, "Victory Lap", a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In "Home", a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill - the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.

Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.

Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December - through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit - not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should "prepare us for tenderness".

©2013 George Saunders (P)2013 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Story
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 02-12-13

Offbeat but Great Stories

These stories are all modern, somewhat dark, explorations into the meaning of the mind, emotions, belief, and will. As such, the language, situations and characters may be quite off-putting to many. Question such as how malleable are our deepest desires and is romantic love simply a chemical reaction may be uncomfortable questions to explore. I don’t mind uncomfortable and found these stories fascinating, thought provoking and enjoyable. None of these stories were predicable, commonplace, or simplistic (the most common sins of the short story). The author’s narration is excellent, bringing subtle emotions to the unusual characters in unfamiliar situations. Sometimes the characters are talking fast, so the listener has to be attentive. Many of the stories border on science fiction but remain firmly literary explorations. I would not recommend these stories for young/pre-teens or the faint of heart. This is probably not the best book you will read this year, but it is a good listen if you appreciate looking at all sides of human emotions.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Fascinating Stories, Brilliantly Read

Would you consider the audio edition of Tenth of December to be better than the print version?

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.

What does George Saunders bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • ellen
  • Tucson, AZ
  • 04-28-13

Wonderful and memorable stories, awful narration

What did you like best about Tenth of December? What did you like least?

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.

How could the performance have been better?

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.

Could you see Tenth of December being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

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.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

TERRIBLE narration by author. Great short stories

What would possess an author to read his own work so incompetently when there are so many wonderful narrators available? George Saunders nearly destroys this audible book. He mumbles, whines and sounds like an adolescent boy throughout the listening of this book. Is he such an egomaniac that he couldn't hear himself? Did anyone at Audible listen to this before releasing it? Maybe say to old George, you're a great writer but a terrible narrator? So dear listener, you choose: if you can stand the narration, lay down your credit and enjoy. But be warned that it's an annoying listening experience through some truly wonderful and profound stories. Tragic hubris.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Tenth of December

Not what I expected! After listening to the first chapter I was thoroughly upset by the foul language. I guess some people find this type of book entertaining but for me it was deplorable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Excellent with a Note

Would you listen to Tenth of December again? Why?

Yes. For the one negative that I have with the book: I had a very hard time telling when one story stopped, and the next one began.

What did you like best about this story?

The author reading the book gave the stories a unique voice and the voice of how it should be read.

What about George Saunders’s performance did you like?

His "Wisconsin"-style accent. Funny and interesting.

Any additional comments?

The stories were imaginative and interesting. I enjoyed every one of them and thought they were the most original ideas I have heard in a long time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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just weird

struggled to finish this book. I bet it works better as a paperback. however as an audio book... it was very hard to keep my attention. Seemed to be poorly written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Stories for right now

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tennie
  • San Marcos, California, United States
  • 07-26-13

My new favorite short story collection/author

Would you listen to Tenth of December again? Why?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

The title story was BEAUTIFUL, and I loved The SG Diaries and Escape from Spiderhead.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Listen, then read.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful