Civilwarland in Bad Decline

Civilwarland in Bad Decline

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A collection of six stories and a novella, CIVILWARLAND IN BAD DECLINE introduces an astonishing new voice in American fiction. George Saunders' vision of America's near future is as black and funny as you can get. He takes us on a trip to the shopping malls and theme parks and enviromental hazards that lie just around the chronological corner, introducing us to gang of misfits and losers struggling to survive in an increasingly haywire world. Saunders' dialogue is superb, his plots marvellously bizarre: he is an original and uniquely American voice destined to become one of the most important literary discoveries of his generation.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 12mm | 143g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099595818
  • 9780099595816
  • 75,017

About George Saunders

George Saunders works as a geo-physical engineer in Rochester, N.Y. He has explored for oil in Sumatra, played guitar in a Texas bar band, and worked in a slaughterhouse. He lives in Rochester with his wife and children.show more

Review Text

A debut collection so friendly and casual in style (pieces first appeared in Harper's and The New Yorker) that it takes a while before you realize what a frightening world Saunders has created. His is a dystopian vision of a "degraded cosmos," a future in which leisure and history combine in theme parks for the rich while the rest of humanity fights over scarce resources. Saunders's weird naturalism pulls you in with its chattiness and modest posture - no science-fictional bombast weighs down these skilled narratives. The title piece introduces the author's screwed-up future; the narrator is the cowardly flunkey of a theme-park owner who's trying to interest investors in his dying enterprise. The rides and exhibits are in disrepair, attendance is low, and violent gangs assault the perimeter. A similarly frightened worker in "The Wavemaker Falters" is haunted by images from the past - he's visited by the ghost of the boy he chopped up by accident in the wave-making machine at the water park where he works. Saunders's future world engenders strange, disgruntled workers, made more vicious by their need to survive a stark and ruthless marketplace. The overweight loser in "The 400-Pound CEO" works for the insane owner of a raccoon removal company that promises a humanitarian treatment but kills the animals brutally. "Isabelle" marks one of the few redemptive moments in this bleak collection: In a nightmarish city of blunt racial hatred and easy violence, the narrator discovers family with "Boneless," a crippled neighbor he eventually takes in. "Bounty," a novella, is Saunders's fullest portrait of the future; it begins in a postmodern freak show where "Flawed" people work in historical re-creation shows for the rich "Normals." Eventually, the claw-footed narrator escapes, journeying cross-country to join the revolution. The politics of scarcity are brilliantly fictionalized in these smart and understated stories that are more Mad Max than 1984. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"One of the few living masters of the [short story] genre" Daily Telegraph "Surreal and puncturing" -- Margaret Atwood "There is no author I recommend to people more often - for ten years I've urged George Saunders onto everyone and everyone." -- Dave Eggers "[A] brilliant collection of short stories" -- Philip Hensher Mail on Sunday "Strangely moving, hilariously unsettling, and unlike anything else you'll read this year" Esquireshow more