Monday, January 28, 2013

George Saunders

George Saunders's fourth collection of stories is Tenth of December.

From the transcript of his dialogue with Jacki Lyden for NPR:

LYDEN: Let's go to a story that I think is really accessible, George, and that would be the title story of this collection, "Tenth of December." I quite loved it, and I thought, you know, there's almost a '50s feeling in here. This is about a boy who goes into the woods. He's kind of a misfit. He's going to encounter a very sick old man who is thinking about ending his life. And that, to me, is almost classic. Like, I could see Timmy in "Lassie Come Home" and, you know?


LYDEN: But you've given it a complete, you know, contemporary twist. This is sort of near the end of the story where the little boy Robin has been saved but his savior hasn't. Would you begin there?

SAUNDERS: Sure. With a shock, he remembered the old guy. What the heck? An image flashed of the old guy standing bereft and blue-skinned in his tidy whities like a POW abandoned at the barbwire due to no room on the truck or a sad, traumatized stork bidding farewell to its young.

He bolted. He bolted on the old guy, hadn't even given him a thought. Blimey. What a chicken (bleep) thing to do. He had to go back right now. Help the old guy hobble out. But he was so tired. He wasn't sure he could do it. Probably the old guy was fine. Probably he had some sort of old guy plan.

But he'd bolted. He couldn't live with that. His mind was telling him that the only way to undo the bolting was to go back now, save the day. His body was saying something else: It's too far. You're just a kid. Get Mom. Mom will know what to do. He stood paralyzed at the edge of the soccer field like a scarecrow in huge flowing clothes.

LYDEN: A sad, traumatized stork bidding farewell to its young, a scarecrow in huge flowing clothes. I think one of the things that really hits me in your language is that it seems simple but you have such a way with image.

SAUNDERS: Oh, thanks. You know, honestly, so much of this stuff happens on the fly. And for me, one of the deepest pleasures is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue