George Saunders - Tenth of December
A rather insubstantial short story collection that will no doubt have cult appeal
It might seem like damning with faint praise, but George Saunders is an interesting writer. His tough tales are never going to be everyone’s litbag (even those disposed to his idiosyncratic style of writing) but you can almost smell his cult appeal.
This fourth collection of short stories spans a 1995 micro-tale, ‘Sticks’ and features a 2000 McSweeney’s contribution, ‘Exhortation’, while the majority have been plucked from the last five years.
A little too often, Saunders uses his undoubted skills to bamboozle and infuriate rather than dazzle and inspire, but he does have the ability to hit some true high notes, such as with the title story about two lonely souls coming together and ‘Escape from Spiderhead’, a futuristic tale of thwarted desires.
But the overall effect is rather insubstantial. While reading some of these stories, you can feel the quality trying to break through the page, only to find that you’re struggling to recall what you read a couple of hours earlier.