Tenth of December
by George Saunders
Anyone who doubts that the short form has the ability of the novel to deliver depth and breadth, get hold of this incredible collection and judge for yourself. The story PUPPY, for example, about two women, both mothers, both trying to do the best for their children, says in a few pages what many writers would take an entire novel to say. It is worth the price of the book alone.
Every story is set in a sort-of present day small-town America. But, for all its quotidian settings, it is a landscape of bleak and terrifying possibility: a land where the opportunities for conspicuous consumption; the pressure to get ahead; ever-present money worries and compulsory positivity are taken to their logical, and surreal, conclusions.
Saunders is uncompromising in his portrayal of the caustic effects of inequality and the urge for power, yet he balances satire with a deep humanity which shows in his affection for his characters. He lets them tell their own stories and his distinctive running interior monologues, while revealing and poignant, can also be very funny.
TENTH OF DECEMBER won the Folio Prize 2014 and was short-listed for the National Book Award.
Published by Bloomsbury, 256pp.