Civilwarland in Bad Decline

Civilwarland in Bad Decline


By (author) George Saunders

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 12mm | 143g
  • Publication date: 6 February 1997
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099595818
  • ISBN 13: 9780099595816
  • Sales rank: 65,518

Product description

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.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

"An astoundingly tuned voice - graceful, dark, authentic and funny" -- Thomas Pynchon "Strangely moving, hilariously unsettling, and unlike anything else you'll read this year" Esquire "[A] brilliant collection of short can't help loving this outstandingly tasteless and amusing volume" -- Philip Hensher Mail on Sunday "Hilarious but frightening, cruel yet the first pages of any story slowly and you'll realise how good he is" -- James Hepburn Scotland on Sunday "The debut of an exciting new voice in fiction...He's a savage satirist with a sentimental streak who delineates the dark underbelly of the American dream. Mr Saunders' satiric vision of America is dark and demented, also ferocious and very funny" -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times

Editorial reviews

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)