Tenth of December

 

Hello readers! Thank you all for getting my little blog off to a good start. My first post got plenty of likes and feedback, so thank you for reading. I know you’re probably just here for the cats, but some days so am I.

I intended to write you a review of Tenth of December by George Saunders last week, but I got pretty busy. Today, I flew back to Texas to visit my family for the holidays before I go back home to spend Christmas in Cincy. I don’t know about you, but 7 am flights should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

I’ve also been really busy getting ready for the holidays. As usual, I’ve waited until the absolute last possible second to really start on my knitting projects, which means I’m not going to be able to do all of them and I have to complete AT LEAST one a week to have them ready by Christmas Day. My hands already hurt from typing and working, now they’re going to be in absolute agony. But my infinity scarves are going to be amazing.

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Alright, let’s get down to business and discuss my most recent read, Tenth of December. First, I have a little story for you. When I was in college, I worked at Borders. For a budding literature student, this was pretty much the best job in the world. I got to work with and talk about books all day. While there, I had a manager named Mat. That’s right, one T. We called him Single T Mat, since there were a few Matts in the store. Single T Mat was a bald guy in his late 30’s, wore round glasses, and had an absolutely impeccable taste in books. It was Single T Mat who introduced me to George Saunders via Pastoralia, another book of his short stories. I can’t tell you how much I loved that book, and when Single T Mat transferred to another store I decided I was never giving it back because he betrayed me by leaving.

Tenth of December doesn’t really hold a candle to Pastoralia. I’m not sure if it’s because Pastoralia was my explosive and mind blowing introduction to the world of Saunders, or because Pastoralia is just so much weirder, which appeals more to my taste. At any rate, it’s still a great book, but if you’re looking to read your first Saunders collection I am BEGGING you to read Pastoralia first.

Tenth of December is, for all intents and purposes, and collection of stories about the modern American dream. I don’t mean the kind of American Dream explored in the works of Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman or A Raisin in the Sun by Hansberry. The characters in Saunder’s stories aren’t looking to pull themselves out of poverty, create neighborhood envy, or find equality in a world of prejudice. Most of these characters are absolutely dirt poor, but instead of focusing on the constant struggle to collect more money and more possessions, they seek happiness. Tenth of December is a study in making ends meet, making due, and making sure the people you love are happy. It’s about enduring despite your neighbor’s huge house or being an adolescent under the rule of extremely controlling parents. Saunder’s characters seem to find happiness in the face of crushing poverty, illness, and loss. These stories put humanity under a microscope and challenges it to be happy when it should be absolutely miserable. And somehow, his characters find some leaf of joy on which to nest.

This was a great read for the week of Thanksgiving. The writing, as always, is merely impeccable. Saunders is a master of character development and manages to add an element of disbelief into each of his mini masterpieces, reminding you that his world, while it reflects our own, is not. That these are simply stories, and although they seek to examine the American Dream as we know it today, the characters are just that.

A highly recommended collection by one of my favorite modern writers, Tenth of December gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. If you like short story collections, it would be a crime to miss this one.

And because I promised books AND cats, here is Tetra sleeping in my open dresser drawer.

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