Book Review: ‘Tenth Of December’

Writer and MacArthur-certified genius George Saunders’ latest collection, Tenth Of December, brings together stories so good and touching to make him the writer that I both admire (funny ha-ha humor) and fear (funny ha-ha teaches tough lessons about being a worthwhile human). Saunders’ ear for the vernacular of his characters—a teenage girl dancing around her house before a recital, an average ordinary Joe up for auction at a fundraiser, a rags-to-riches mother taking her kids to buy a puppy from a rags-to-rags one—position Saunders as one of today’s untouchable writers and storytellers.

With nary a trendy vampire or sexual deviant in sight, Tenth Of December is so much more than reading for reading’s sake. It is a collection of observations and creative meditations on what makes us tick, what moves us and more often what doesn’t but should. Couching something heavy (an abduction, a suicide, a young, traumatized war veteran) in absurdity and hilarity while managing to move a reader means a writer is an undeniable master of his craft and a person capable of taking note of the silliness and seriousness of an average blinders-on existence. Through a character’s voice and idiosyncrasies, Saunders pulls the curtain back and tells us about (lacking) compassion, beauty, emotion, and conflict in a world that is at once comforting and disturbing, ridiculously comical and tragic, and way too familiar. Consistently brilliant, Tenth Of December’s stories are uncompromising examples of what’s happening when the iWhatevers are put down long enough to remind us of why we are so damn funny and stupid, laughable and lovable, angry and ugly, human and good.

Other fiction by George Saunders:

CivilWarLand In Bad Decline


The Brief And Frightening Reign Of Phil

In Persuasion Nation