Year in Reading

A Year in Reading: Charlie Jane Anders (io9)

By posted at 3:00 pm on December 9, 2013 0

coverSaunders-mania reached a fever pitch early this year, with rapturous articles everywhere you looked. By the time I got around to reading Tenth of December, I was pretty sure there was no way it could live up to the hype — especially since so many other authors had imitated Saunders, at that point, that his own dystopian stylings seemed in danger of being clichéd. Saunders’s Kafkaesque tales of humiliation, complicity, and dehumanization had struck an exposed nerve in the era of pervasive surveillance, smartphones, and bitter irony. But I wasn’t prepared for how moving several of the stories in this volume were — and how indelibly they’ve stayed in my mind. You get the same sense of being crushed by life, and the same parodies of weird organizations — but there’s also a stronger feeling of compassion for these hapless people than I got from the previous book of his that I’d read, Pastoralia. The influence of Saunders’s old mentor Tobias Wolff showed through strongly. You really feel for the father who wants to give his daughter the status she craves at any cost, in “Semplica Girl Diaries,” or the failing egomaniac businessman in “Al Roosten.” I’ve read a lot of copies of George Saunders, of varying quality, in the last few years — but this book re-established him in my mind as an original.

More from A Year in Reading 2013

Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

The good stuff: The Millions’ Notable articles

The motherlode: The Millions’ Books and Reviews

Like what you see? Learn about 5 insanely easy ways to Support The Millions, and follow The Millions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.

The Millions' future depends on your support. Become a member today!

Share this article

More from the Millions

Post a Response

Comments with unrelated links will be deleted. If you'd like to reach our readers, consider buying an advertisement instead.

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments that do not add to the conversation will be deleted at our discretion.

NEW COMMENTING RULE: Comments may be held for moderation and/or deleted. Whitelisted commenters will see their comments appear immediately. Don't be a jerk. We reserve the right to delete your comment or revoke commenting privileges for any reason we want.