(PDF FREE) [CivilWarLand in Bad Decline] î George Saunders

CivilWarLand in Bad DeclineNary is the uniueness inherent in it s nature Like I said I m not sure how far anybody has ever gone with the Wallace comparisons to Saunders so I m not sure if any of this applies And there s nothing wrong with comparing recent experiences with fondly recalled past experiences But I worry that holding something to the evel of past greatness be it MJ DFW The Beatles Brando Scorsese etc does a diservices to both the new experience by holding it up to a standard that is impossible to reach without some glimmer of nostalgia and the old experience by causing us to forget how uniue the first was Have you ever heard a politically incorrect joke and Wolfie Paints the Town: A Little Wood Story laughed and then felt guilty but thenaughed againHave you ever driven by a car wreck and slowed down to see the emergency response vehicles and the vehicle made to ook ike a damaged accordionHave you ever watched a reality TV show and saw folks fighting each other and tearing clothes and being separated by bouncers and realized you were hypnotized by the gross The Swan Gondola lowest common denominator humanityHave you read Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George SaundersTwisted Degenerate Profligate Absolutely and unconditionally brilliantIoved it and am seeking counselingIf Kurt Vonnegut had a redheaded stepchild that illegitimate heir to the black comedic satirical throne may be George Saunders Civilwarland in Bad Decline his 1996 collection of short stories and one novella is Vonnegutesue Using Right Turns: From Liberal Activist to Conservative Champion in 35 Unconventional Lessons lavish grotesue and generously mocking political correctness and hypocrisy George Saunders thrashes everydayife to pitiful trash reducing the States to the ridiculous dystopia of dark agesThat night I sleep a troubled sleep beside a fetid stream I dream of Limbo a tiny room full of dull people eternally discussing their dental work while sipping Politically Incorrect lukewarm tea I wake at firstight and hike through miles of failing forest and around noon arrive in a village of paranoiacs standing with rifles in the doorways of flapper era homes It s a nice town No signs of plunder or panic The McDonald s has been occupied by the radical Church of Appropriate Humility Everyone calls them Guilters The ultimate Guilter ritual is when one of them goes into a frenzy and thrusts his or her hand into a deep fryer A mangled hand is a badge of honor All the elders have two and need to be helped on and off with their coatsEconomics politics ecology morals and culture degraded dramatically but at the same time vulgarity progressed incongruouslyThe day it happened an attractive all girl glee club was Beyond Varallan lying around on the concrete in Kawabunga Kove in Day Glo suitsooking for all the world ike a bunch of blooms The president and sergeant at arms were standing with brown ankles in the shallow favorably comparing my Attraction to real surf To increase my appeal I had the sea chanteys blaring I was operating at the prescribed wave freuency setting but in my ust for the glee club had the magnitude peggedBread and circuses entertainment is the basis of civilization Whatever happens show must go on and the citizens must be entertained Me at 18 I read Vonnegut I read Tom Robbins I read Mark Leyner I read Douglas Adams I had just eft the nest in a small Oklahoma town I knew hardship I knew the void of culture that threatens to suck you in ike a black hole I knew the vapid anguish that takes center stage in Saunders stories Humor was therapy then the absurd a close friend We scoffed at the religious majority and their follies poked fun at the consumerist drone of daily existence Then came anger and resentment But now now a uiet concern and disappointment that the world is truly this disturbing that it wasn t just a cruel joke and that Dona Flor lessons are painfully slow to beearned by our obstinate populationAnd then there is George Saunders always good for a Rocker Babies Wear Jeans laugh And such high ratings Such acclaim and I see his consistent voice of contempt and clever constructions of a world not unlike ours but just a bit focused on the details of its unpleasant andudicrous sides George Saunders the new voice of satire a genre that has always served a function since the classical Greeks and ater Swift The only problem for me is that I suppose I don t ike satire any not in Sono with Visits from the Seventh large doses anyway I can only stomach so much irony only handle so many exaggerations into hilarity that the hilarity becomes irritating after a while Am I too serious Probably Do I want a didactic serious approach to critiuing our society Well no I don t always need to be told through fiction that the world is horrible I know that I want human stories human realism I suppose the problem isn t Saunders writing it s that I ve outgrown farce Vonnegut s absurd world just doesn t do it for me any ADDENDUM I LIKE SATIRE AND SAUNDERS MORE NOW NOVEMBER 2015 So this is where it all began for George Saunders In the wonderful preface which can be read in full here he reveals that he wrote these stories over the course of seven years while working a monotonous office job Once he had compiled the tedious technical reports at his desk he spent every spare minute working on this collection hiding it from his boss Sidenote This sounds very familiar to me I work in a similarly unstimulating role and tend to spend much of it daydreaming about books But hey it pays the bills With a young family relying on him at home it can t have been easy to juggle everything but his persistence eventually paid off and he became the much acclaimed author he is todayThough Saundersooks back on this period fondly the stories are uite dark Unhappy ghosts and monstrous theme parks his favourite subjects feature prominently Bounty the novella which ends the collection is a nightmarish vision of future America where the Flawed people with genetic abnormalities are forced to work in historical recreations to entertain the wealthy Normals In The 400 Pound CEO the protagonist is an obese man bullied by his office colleagues whose company rids homes of racoon infestations and claims to release them into the wild when in fact they burn the animals and dump them in a pit Isabelle is the one uplifting tale in the book In an angry town fuelled by racial hatred the onely narrator takes pity on a severely disabled neighbour and gives her a place to stay Now we re pals Family It s not perfect Sometimes it s damn hard But I ook after her and she sueals with delight Sometimes it s damn hard But I ook after her and she sueals with delight I come home and the sum total of sadness in the world is ess than it would have beenIf I have one small criticism it s that the stories are all uite similar in tone and theme But you can see Saunders honing his craft and these tales are imbued with the sharp satirical humour and skewed take on modern culture that he is now famous for His ability to highlight the absurdities of world we Heroes Adrift (Hero, live in allows us to realise how ridiculous much of it really is and encourages us to consider what really matters most He is a true genius and we areucky to have him Man this Chuck and Danielle little guyI can t fault it a single sentence Every story in this tiny collection made me want to high five the author with one hand and cradle my hanging head in the other Maybe I was a bit hard on hisater Pastoralia because I needed to warm up to Saunders maybe my head was just in the right space this time aroun I already knew Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old liked the title track so I skipped to the big novella Bounty and thought hello hello this isike a Motown follow up where say Reach Out I Dogs Behaving Badly: An A-Z Guide to Understanding and Curing Behavorial Problems in Dogs ll be There was followed up by Standing in the Shadows of Love which isike the same song tweaked a bit but still great or I Can t Help Myself followed up by It s the Same Old Song which really is how daringly blatant they were I thought this was a short story collection It S Like A Rock Opera it Gray Bishop like a rock opera the stories inhabit the same world you knowike Tommy so I shoulda read the blurb Set in a dystopian near future in which America has become Puckster's First Hockey Sweater little than a theme park in terminal disrepairWell sugar pie honey George it s the same old joke Alright because George is uite brilliant it s a firework display of many similar jokes But anyways not a patch on Tenth of December George satest collection which got the P Bryant Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval presented in a short but tasteful ceremony in Pirates Park Waldeck Road Sherwood in May 2013 Mr Saunders sent a hologram of himself to accept the award and it was just so moving I had to retire behind a arge child to throw upBest story worth getting this 2nd hand for The 400 Pound CEO Poor George Saunders must have had a real real bad theme park experience in his youth This collection of stories makes the dystopia of Zombieland seem sedate I ove Saunders take on American consumption and the. Ion of the egacy Americans are creating Against the backdrop of American devolvement America's own worst tendencies and greatest virtues are weirdly illuminate. The Nazis and the holocaust etc I apologize for the Reductio ad Hitlerum here but it is necessary allowing economic pressure and mob mentality to rationalize and assuage any moral ualms against even the most despicable of actions In Bounty it is a similar circumstance that allows people to view the Flawed as Noir less than human and to not bat an eye at the Flawed s horrific mistreatment Welcome to the OccupationThe whole way through George Saunders first collection of short stories there are suggestions that the world is not as it should beImagine a worldike this totally unlike our ownThe characters and narrators are or are surrounded by kooks and wackos People have names Renovate: Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are like Shirleen and Melvin Where there were once cornfields and flood plains there are now parking stations and theme parks Gangs invade civil war re enactments All dreams are defiled All entertainment is simulated Muzak reigns All other music isip synched All consumer items are fake or synthetic All advertising is misleading All flavouring is artificial Outside homes are suspended signs saying Homogeneity Sweet Homogeneity A Randian Bountytown welcomes you with the greeting Where merit is king and so are you Success in the community means you ve been inducted into Rotary God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak his dumb his fat his Gaffer lazy Designer verisimilitude is de rigueur Memories are shmemories Errant fathers are passive flakes miluetoasts and yes men whoeave their families behind and marry floozies Even Dear John Circumstantial Evidence letters are forged People are either Normal or Flawed special or mutant possessed or dispossessed There is noonger any innocence only guilt Sincerity is a thing of the past Authenticity has disappeared into thin air and survives only as a ghost or a rumour My Torn and Black Heart RebelsSaunders narrators believe they have to do something about it the world needs to be rectified Having Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers lost what was to beost my torn and black heart rebelsenough already enough this is as ow as I goUnderstandably they have to start at the bottom Learn to enjoy what ittle you have Revel in the fact that your dignity hasn t yet been stripped awayFor all the satirical intent and comic effect these stories of rebellion have a heart of gold They A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store's Guide to Chicken Keeping live and breathe pure empathy Everyone you ve everoved you ve treated Island of the Lost Horses (Dora and Friends) like goldThe door of happiness swings open for the selfless Iook after her and she sueals with delight when I come home and the sum total of sadness in the world is Summer Meditations less than it would have beenThis is the real thingGeorge Saunders and Mark TwainSOUNDTRACKview spoilerThe Chills The Male Monster from the Id Welcome to the OccupationSugar cane and coffee cupCopper steel and cattleAn annotated historyThe forest for the fireWhere we open up the floodgatesFreedom reigns supremeFire on the hemisphere belowGenevi ve Toupin Heart of Gold Neil Young Morris The Real Thing Chills Part Past Part Fiction Brother Million Dollar Bill Brother Million Dollar Bill KXT 917 and ArtSeek Present On the Road Star Fade Into You Live on Late Night with Conan O Brien Day Il Keep It with Mine Bob Dylan Hoffs and Matthew Sweet A Different Drum Taste the Ceiling Live at Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago on July 17 2015 hide spoiler The past couple of months two activities have dominated my God Said, Ha!: A Memoir leisure time reading and watching NBA hoops After reading CivilWarLand in Bad Decline I was reminded of a hoops argument that I think should carry over to moderniterature as well The argument has to deal with the unceasing uest for the so called next Michael Jordan Michael Jordan was the transcendent athlete if not public figure of my childhood There are a generation of kids who still drink Gatorade buy Nikes and wear Hanes solely because at some point in their childhood they wanted to be ike Mike Whenever I play a pickup game or even just shoot around I find my tongue subconsciously hanging out of my mouth when I drive to the basket What separates Jordan from similar figures is he actually justified this adulation Watching Jordan was watching a real ife folk hero I remember my Dad who isn t an NBA fan during the MLB strike of 1994 ranting about how all professional athletes are overpaid then pausing and adding with the exception of Michael Jordan This is a guy who averaged a couple grand a minute during the ate 90s The Flu Game The Shrug Game The Blindfolded Dunk The final shot of the 1998 Finals No other athlete since Babe Ruth has been able to summon similar myth making moments Yet as soon as he retired for since Babe Ruth has been able to summon similar myth making moments Yet as soon as he retired for second time the media and basketball fans have become obsessed with finding the Next Jordan Around a dozen guys have been nominated as candidates and while these guys are all extremely talented it s doing them a disservice to compare them to Jordan Jordan is Gretzky Young Sandy Koufax Mohammed Ali before the draft and The Beatles combined a truly once in a ifetime talent I ve started to notice a similar thing going on in Rise and Shine: Encouragement to Start Your Day literature concerning David Foster Wallace More and it seems the DFW comparisons are used talking about contemporary authors For Christmas I received two books explicitly name checked Wallace on the back cover This really doesn t bother me and I don t think it causes the reader or the publishing industry any harm When I think about it there s nothingike a good DFW comparison to get me interested in a newly published book But at the same time I worry a Operation Iceberg : The Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II little bit about it The problem with the next Jordan controversy is that while Vince Carter has or aptly once had the capacity for in air improvisation that Jordan had Dwyane Wade has the ability to put a team on his shoulders and almost single handedly win playoff series and Kobe has the clutch instincts and competitive intensity Jordan had none of these guys are on MJ sevel While these guys and others I haven t mentioned are very good to extraordinarily good at individual faucets of the game of basketball Jordan was the best at everything you can ask a shooting guard to be good atI wouldn t go so far as to completely euate the respective greatness of MJ and DFW but there is an analogy here Because Arrows of the Night: Ahmad Chalabi's Long Journey to Triumph in Iraq let s face it anybody who reads an author expecting a David Foster Wallace doppelg nger is probably going to be disappointed as those who expected Harold Miner to be the next Michael JordanNow that that s said while this argument came to me while I was reading CivilWarLand in Bad Decline I m not sure this review is the best place to expound upon it For starters George Saunders writing style and story telling are both fundamentally different from DFW s If you were to make a Venn Diagram of George Saunders and DFW the overlapping segments of the circles would be a mere sliver ateast based on this book In fact I wouldn t be shocked if Saunders never read any Wallace before he wrote any of these stories There are certain traits that Saunders and Wallace share Both are able to write about a world that is fundamentally different from ours in very profound ways but at the same Make The Reader Feel Some Sense Of Almost Eerie Familiarity the reader feel some sense of almost eerie familiarity it descriptions of wheelchair bound uebecois assassins who were disabled in a bizarre rail jumping ritual or an account of an employee at a Civil War Era theme park seeking advice from the ghosts of an actual Civil War era family both writers have an uncanny ability to treat the other worldly in a causal manner They both have incredible imaginations but are able to resist what must be an overwhelming urge to Michelin Green Guide Normandy let the otherness of their narratives overly dominate the storytelling I feelike I m doing people a disservice when I tell them what the plot of Infinite Jest is about While the world Wallace constructs is unbelievably intriguing that s not what the book is about If you go into the book expecting to earn about The Entertainment and find out what s wrong with Hal you re going to be somewhat disappointed I feel similarly about the stories here While the settings might suggest genre fiction Saunders writing reminded me of Raymond Carver than Philip K Dick or DFW My one uibble may be is that while Saunders is definitely a uniue storyteller and I enjoyed all of the stories there is nothing that really resonated with me or kept me up thinking at night Beyond the polish of the background I m not sure exactly how much is new there I haven t come close to reading the complete DFW bibliography or Saunders but it still pisses me off to no end that one day that wells going to run prematurely dry Because just as there was nothing ike watching Jordan in his prime there is nothing out there uite ike reading David Foster Wallace What makes experiencing greatness so extraordi. To disarray and civilization dissolves into surreal chaos These wacky brilliant hilarious and entirely original stories cue us in on George Saunders' skewed vis. What a degraded cosmos We ive in a world where cruelty towards others is becoming and accepted how easy we rationalize our self righteous anger against someone who cut us off brought us an undercooked meal said something stupid etc and even seen as funny Saunders ike the ghost of Christmas future would ike to show us where that is eading us Civilwarland In Bad Decline his first collection of stories paints a grim portrait of a near future filled with everything from economic collapse murderous CEO s moral degradation on a mass scale and a world dominated or enslaved by the rich callous and self absorbed His satire which manages to extract a comedic flair from all the foreboding gloom cuts to the core of our morality Saunders presents us with the inner thoughts of the poor and the meek the dregs of a future society not that unlike our own as he cautions us against our mistreatment of others and the self important beliefs that drive us to sidestep our moralityGeorge Saunders thinks we are all assholes and he is probably right While we feel safety in our knowledge that each story is removed from our own reality the creeping dread at seeing our own world our actions or those of people we know elevated to such apocalyptic proportions is frightening In nearly every story the economy has driven us to a state where the wealthy dominate and all others are mere chattel disposable employees who suffer horrific treatment just to scrape by We see people pushed through degrading drudgery just to survive dehumanized enslaved and aughed at and we see those who have risen above it only I Got a New Friend looking down with mirthful scorn Each person is just a pawn in everyone else s game It is this self centered view thated the world to such a predicament Dad said she should try to understand that other people even ignorant people even poor people The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War loved their children every bit as much as sheoved hers Tell me something I don t know she said The point is I don t Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter That Changes Your Life love their kids as much as Iove mine Immanuel Kant s first Categorical Imperative states that Act only on the maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal aw Through his stories Saunders argues that if we all ook out only for ourselves if we all ignore the needs of others then we are doomed to this degradation of moral ethical and economic standards The 400lb CEO is a ripe example of our cruelty towards others as the reader witnesses the inner turmoil of a good man albeit an obese man as he clings to his morality while beleaguered by insults and jokes at his weight his coworkers openly mock him to his face with no thought to how it might affect him This instills a tragic belief that perfectly captures the essence of Saunders message I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak his dumb his fat his azy I believe he takes pleasure in his perfect creatures and cheers them on ike a brainless dad as they run roughshod over the rest of us He gives us a desire to be iked and personal attributes that make us utterly unlikable Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications he deducts the difference between what we have and what we need from our hearts and our self esteem and our mental health There is no end to the rationalizations made to gloss over the difficult truths of moral depravity Much ike the darkly comedic works of Flannery O Connor Saunders depicts obdurate morally corrupt characters who cling to their religion What terrible atrocities we can commit with God on our side Money is another scapegoat as in the title story where even murder seems The Meaning of Star Trek less repugnant than bankruptcy andowly employees are pressured into terrible situations in order to feed their families There is no arguing against those in power and exposing their depravity or fighting against it can only Mirage: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt lead one to being suashed by the corporate gears as in Downtrodden Mary Some people truly are above theaws It is the wicked that rule the world and the good that are haunted by the ghosts of the slaughter Those with a good moral compass always get crushed in his worlds and often they are ridiculed or hated because of their honest and good beliefs The ability to feel to empathize to pity open one up to the cold hateful aim of those whose hearts are so calloused and buried in filth and self righteousness that they can t care for anyone aside from themselvesSaunders wants us to treat each other with respect to keep an open mind and open heart In his violent visions we see the results of our acceptance of

Picking On The Nerds 
on the nerds physically ess fortunate the weak and the dumb In the wonderful and wonderfully terrifying novella Bounty those with any deformity the Flawed are enslaved and dehumanized While Saunders uses the parallels of pre Civil War American slavery to flesh out the novella as well as using racism to fuel the plot of the Ralph Ellison esk Isabelle the effect is than just putting a new spin on a traditional iterary examination Saunders re examines the past to portend the future and extends the horrors encompass us all instead of stopping at boundaries of race creed or gender The world damns the Flawed yet as pointed out by an elderly Flawed there s not a person on this earth who s not Flawed in one way or another While we may excel in one area we all have our deficiencies even if they are not visibleIn each story the world is headed in a terrible direction that is for the most part seen as irreversible Saunders is Frommer's Irreverent Guide to Walt Disney World looking to us those in the present to course correct in order to avoid such a grim future His futures however aren t that dissimilar from our present In nearly every story which is a bit of a point of contention for me the narrator works in a theme parkike resort where wealthy patrons can experience a simulated pure natural world often one of times past While this is fitting with a world where everything is collapsing polluted and destroyed it isn t much different from our present as we escape the world around us for virtual worlds We ive through our online selves we escape our world to other worlds such as seeking solace in times past through video games and movies These terrible bosses and evil corporate empires are all around us and the mistreatment and fear mongering that keeps workers in ine happens each and every day Having just escaped a factory where it is clear that employees are not people a place where nobody is concerned that the employees where it is clear that employees are not people a place where nobody is concerned that the employees about in thick clouds of aluminum dust or use cancerous chemicals without masks or ventilation a place where employees work 60 80hr weeks and have no say in anything no rights hope of raises are dismissed at a whim ridiculed a place that is perfectly Dump Truck Trouble/Lets Build a Doghouse! legal and accepted by society yet maddening and deadly to work in this is the sort of place that Saunders satirizes without having to jump too far I apologize for this aside I don t intend it as any woe is me but to share the eye opening experience I had of how placesike in The Jungle still exist today As in Cormac McCarthy Saunders shows how just because you can do something doesn t make it right Just because you have the power over another ife you should not kill it smite it ridicule it enslave it or abuse it in any way Laws or social acceptance may be in your favor but it still isn t right and makes you a monster We must be good to one another in order for the world to flourishThis collection is a joy to read It is witty downright hilarious at times while uncomfortable at others and presents a really positive message despite dragging the reader through a world of muck to get there I really hope Saunders continues writing for a long time to come and goes down as time to come and goes down as of the great iterary satirists The writing is crisp and carries a strong forward momentum and Saunders comes euipped with enough techniues such as his slight changes in dialogue presentation and his character s Stop Inflammation Now!: A Step-By-Step Plan to Prevent, Treat, and Reverse Inflammation--The Leading Cause of Heart Disease and Related Conditions lexicon to disguise that each character all of them told in first person have a very similar cadence and voice While it has a few rough patches the collection still manages to soar with its comedy and dark visions455 Seeing someone do something that s not patently selfish and fucked up isike a breath of fresh air good clean fresh air not that any one of us would know good clean fresh air is a vial of it swooped down and bit us on the ass Slavery is not the only idea dredged up Saunders use of economical collapse sets each story in a world where it isn t all that surprising that people would bond together against what they fear In High School we all had to examine how ordinary people could commit terrible atrocities such as. This is an alternate cover edition for ISBN 1573225797Funny sad bleak weird toxic the future of America as the Free Market runs rampant the environment skids in. ,