Tenth of December by George Saunders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Not to jinx it, but I've been having really good luck with short story collections lately!
If you keep at all abreast of the buzz in the literary marketplace, you've probably heard of this book. The buzz has been good, the reviews have been good, and the jacket is covered in praise from notable authors like Jennifer Egan, Zadie Smith, David Eggers, and Thomas Pynchon. Usually I give zero credit to any quote displayed on a jacket cover, whether I know the author or not, because frankly, just because I like an author's writing doesn't mean we have the same taste in what we read. However, in this instance, all of the buzz and reviews and plugs are accurate. This is most definitely a Work of Art.
I sincerely enjoyed every story in this book. Each one was unique, with characters I cared about, a distinctive style, and a plot that--in some way or another--included a beginning, middle, and end. The only thing that I would say about these stories as a collection (and the only reason why, if I could, I would give this a 4.9 star rating), is that I am not entirely sure how they relate to one another. While one of my favorite themes--that no one can ever know the "full story"--reveals itself in one of my favorite stories in the collection, "Puppy," it is not pervasive throughout every story. Likewise, the style used in that story--shifting perspective between characters, which is also done in the final story in the collection, "Tenth of December"--is not employed in every story. Some stories, such as two of my favorites ("Escape from Spiderhead" and "The Semplica Girl Diaries") are futuristic; yet others are not. Perhaps a more careful reader could discern the linking factor between these stories, but that lack of connection did not tarnish my reading experience.
All in all, this is most definitely a collection worth reading.
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