To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Taking things just a bit too far, George Saunders takes us to worlds that initially seem foreign. But then you realize that we are already halfway there. What happens when marketing gets even further unleashed? Lots of wisdom woven into whimsical adult fairy tales.
Nine of these twelve short stories are highly original, outrageous, and delightfully perverse, with an abundance of laugh out loud moments that satirize modern culture, advertising, commerce, junk food, reality TV, addictive consumerism et al. But the three remaining stories weren’t that type of tale and didn’t work for me – “93990”, “bohemians”, and “commcomm.” That doesn’t mean they weren’t good or maybe even great – they just dropped the mood and changed the tone, and I wasn’t willing to go there after being so highly amused. But overall, the book is genius and for the most part, a really fun read.
This is one of George Saunders' best collections. At times his storytelling is absurdist and at others his voice is very conventional, but his stories are all unique, and this collection seems to have the common threads of technology and pop culture throughout, illustrating how difficult it can be to remain human and true to ourselves is a culture that is increasing pressuring us to be something or someone we are not.
I read this book for a short story course and have to say, it's one that's really stuck with me. It has a variety of themes that delve into consumer culture and America in general, the rise of technology, and the fear of impending loneliness within out society. The stories are really interesting and bizarre, but that's Saunders for you. Great read for when you're short on time - just read a story here and there.
Saunders' collections require readers to reorient their viewpoint. often times, you have to reorient your viewpoint at the start of every piece. yet, the worlds often seem to share the same authorities, powers, legal systems, and villains. And, like certain bands -- if you can get into the strange rhythms, suddenly everything will make sense from story to story and even collection to collection.
"I CAN SPEAK!" starts things off with a fantastic letter written in response to a parent complaining about a device that allows children to speak before they know how to speak. The title piece and "CommComm" are the other strong standouts.
Not everything works -- "93990" is nothing more than a gruesome lab report describing the death of numbered animals for the sake of science. While a climax involving a chimp that frees himself from bondage may have crossed a line of natural plot progression, offering nothing more than the current ending (I'll spare the spoiler) leaves the reader wondering why there is so much to read with so little to consider (other then "animal testing sure is awful.")
Similarly, "My Flamboyent Grandson" seems to be undercooked, relying more on the world then the characters to impart some greater statement about individuality. Indeed, Saunders often leaves the power to change in the hands of media/advertising, reducing his characters to reactionary personalities instead of actors. A positive outcome is not necessary for a story or even a collection to work, but the individual pieces could do more then hammer home the idea that certain forces are all-powerful and irresistible and that individuals don't triumph very often.
Saunders isn't always easy but he's often quite fun. If you enjoy a skewed perspective, give this collection a shot.
This collection was not clever or funny. It was hit-you-over-the-head preachy. I have enjoyed some of his other collections but this one went straight into the trash. Readers don't want to be lectured...to do so is lazy, a word which I never imagined using to describe Saunders.
I had to read this for a class and, at first glance, thought that I would find the stories annoying. Instead, I fell in love with them. I give the book 4 stars only because, although there is a mix of stories in this, they are all very similar. I would have preferred a book with a wider collection of themes.
Those of us who find ourselves here all love George Saunders, don't we? I'm just here to bump up his positive numbers. If you like Vonnegut, Braughtigan, or Orwell, you've found your happy place with Saunders. And "In Persuasion Nation" is one of his three best.
A final thought: Have you ever noticed how our very best artists are often our most humane?
This is an amazing collection of distopian stories of the not very distant super-commercialized America. It is America disfunctional in an overly functional way. There is so much in these stories that it can take a lot out of you to go through them, but they are quite compelling. The last few are so good and intense, but others are very funny, especially the first two. My favorite was My Flamboyant Grandson, which I assumed might be about a kid he knows, but I figured he is the kid "that fits no mold."