Criticalreview of George Saunders collection of essays
GeorgeSaunders is a media cult, writer and reviewer who has gain prominentfame by penning various essays, short stories, novellas andchildren’s books most of which have featured prominently inAmerican print media. In most of his literally works, George lureshis readers with his conspiratorial intimacy and flirtations throughphrases that are only understood by those ‘who get it.’ Saundersliterary work balances heaviness and lightness, and does not let anyirony escape in his writings. Saunders collection of stories in the‘Tenth of December’ and ‘Brain-dead Megaphone’ depict him asa gifted and wicked entertainer. Saunders ‘collection of shortstories and essays project him as a nervous explorer, who appliessome elements of brutality and jokey stories. Saunders collection ofstories and essays exhibits anarchical glee and linguistic inventionthat show his understanding of short story form and their plotrequirements. In all his short stories and essays, Saunders projectan air of interconnectedness and relation based on theme, plot,linguistic mastery and the application of literal stylistic devices(Cowles).
Saundersutilizes a similar plot and linguistic mastery strategy in most ofhis short stories and essay collections. The use of similar plot andlinguistic mastery brings out the interconnectedness between the‘Tenth December’ and the ‘Brain-dead Megaphone’ collection ofessays(Roberts).In the ‘Tenth of December’ readers are taken through welldeveloped short stories which explore various social political issuessuch as a rape, abduction, suicide, suppressed rage(Kakutani).In the ‘Tenth of December’ short stories such as ‘escape fromspider head,’ ‘puppy’ and ‘home,’ Saunders applies gusts ofmerriment and daffy good cheer that helps project the dark side ofmorality in these tales(Kakutani).Similarly, in the ‘Brain-dead Megaphone,’ Saunders appliessimilar linguistic style to deliver canny insights that brightens theplot in most of his stories(Williamson 86).
Theuse of humor and satire is another common aspect in all short storiesand essays. Saunders projects austerity in his mastery of satire whenexplaining various issues in the society. Saunders uses phrases like‘mean people stink,’ and ‘that laugh/snort thing’ whilediscussing some aspects in his stories(Kakutani).Saunders alluded that his intention of using satire and humor in hisshort stories is based on his belief that “humor is a quicker wayof telling the truth more directly than people are used to”(Roberts).This explains why most of Saunders short stories are laden withsatire, irony and humor. Comic and monologues are used repeatedly inmost of Saunders stories to illustrate the floridity of humanthoughts, delusion, selfishness and the grandiose that humans poseswhen they acquire wealth and power.
LikewiseSaunders utilizes a common linguistic style in all stories. As onereads through the ‘Tenth of December’ and ‘The Brain-dead’one notices the language, neologism and enlivening slang thatcaptures and associate readers with the author’s thoughts. Forinstance, Saunders in the ‘Tenth of December collection stories’the ‘Exhortation’ short story, Saunders use the phrase“namby-pambythoughts of right/wrong” to describe the shrewd employer who wantto extort his staffs (Kakutani). The language style used in this caseinjects some schematic moral drama and real kinetic prose which helpsto depict characters inner and outside traits. Saunders linguisticstyle is also evident in the ‘Brain-dead Megaphone’ in whichSaunders applies phrases such as "the crankiest-looking gooseimaginable" to describe people in "The New Mecca.”Another linguistic aspect that is similar across all short storiesand essays written by Saunders is the issue of third and firstperson. Ostensibly, Saunders utilizes the first and third personapproach to engage readers with the issues and character narrated inthe stories (Tarnoff 45). The use of third and first person helps thereaders see the world in their own perspective thereby making thestories more thrilling.
Inaddition, Saunders focuses on the issue of morality in most of hiscollection of stories and essays. Saunders spirited wordplay iscommon in most of his stories and essays and does not hesitate toproject his brand of dramatic irony(Tarnoff 63).In most stories Sanders explains various ills that befall the modernsociety. Social and political ineptness is a common theme in moststories and essays. For instance, in the ‘Tenth of December’“Victory lap, Saunders narrates about a dreamy adolescent whoengages in modern fancies till he encounters danger(Kakutani).Similar topics of social ills and sufferings are expounded in theessay ‘the great divider’ and the ‘Arabian city.’ In a numberof stories and essays, Saunders shifts his themes from social evilssuch as immorality, killings and political suppression.
Inthe same line, power and class are other common topics that Saundersuses to enhance interconnectedness in most of his essays and stories.While describing the contemporary human society, Saunders discussesabout the how capitalism, money and power creates social problems.Saunders uses the ‘Brain-dead Megaphone’ story to illustrate howindividuals with power think that they are above others inintellectual power. Saunders writes ‘the Megaphone Guy cannot helpbut dominate conversation.’ in the “Tenth of December” theelement of class and power is depicted in the short story ‘Puppy,’where Saunders narrates about a certain lady who can only sympathizewith poor family but does not offer any help(Roberts).Similarly, in the ‘Brain-dead Megaphone,’ Saunders through theshort essay on ‘Home’ explains how a soldier nearly gets intoviolent conflicts with his ex-wife’s husband. The solder feelsinferior to the rich man who marries his ex-wife. In addition,Saunders elucidates about money issues through the story “TheSemplica Girl Diaries” in the story one father is depicted assaddened for his inability to provide for his family and this promptshim to pray. In the same story, the aspect of money and power isevident when the man feels discounted with wealthy people for their‘exploitation’ on poor people. A similar theme is captured in theessay, “Escape from Spiderhead” where technician administerschemicals to alter prisoners’ mood in this case the technician ispresented as finding moral formula which will help in shaping humanmorals (Roberts).
Furthermore,materialism and capitalism aspects cut across in most of Saundersstories and essays. In the ‘Tenth of December’ collection ofshort stories, “Al Roosten” story depicts materialism as espousedby one guy who expresses self hatred for been poor and fantasizeshow he will acquire more riches and have a beautiful wife (Cowles).The materialism aspect in the “Al Roosten" story are similarto the ones narrated in the “The Semplica Girl Diaries” Saundersdepicts a man fighting against scrupulous businessmen who wants toconfiscate his families property (Cowles). Likewise, the aspect ofmaterialism is well captured in the short story "The New Mecca"and “The Brain-dead Megaphone" where Saunders expresses thematerialistic orientation that the modern Middle East societies haveembraced.
Lastly,Saunders collection of stories and essays shares the topic of envy.For instance, in the short story ‘Home’ the narrator is seenresenting his ex-wife husband for his material wealth fancy cars,house and lives in posh urban areas (Kakutani). Similarly, in "TheBrain-dead Megaphone” collection of essays, Saunders through the“Woof: A plea of Sorts” depicts the dog trying to learn how towrite like man (envy). Similarly, in the short story “Nostalgia”the aspect of envy is also evident when narrator says “In my day,lyrics were used to express real emotion, like the emotion of beingtotally stoned and trying to talk this totally stoned chick intosleeping with you"(Cowles).
Saunderscollection of stories and essays reveal great evidence ofinterconnectedness through the use of similar themes, language, plot,humor and satire. Saunders authors each story with its unique formbut captures common themes, plot, language and humor in otherstories. The ‘Brain-dead Megaphone’ collection of essays ismeticulous written depicting unique authorical voice. Although thereare some disappointments in comparison, the stories are entertaining.In all stories, there is that charm that Saunders depicts betweencharacter’s fantasies and the reality boredom of daily existence.When all the collections are read well, one notes that Saunders maininterest was to capture the social, political and economic realitiesin the modern world. Immorality, greed, jealousy, wealth, power andhumanity are major issues that Saunders tries to illustrate throughhis powerful narratives.
Cowles,Gregory. Rays of Hope: ‘Tenth of December’ by George Saunders.The New York Times, New York, 2013. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/books/review/tenth-of-december-by-george-saunders.html?_r=1
KakutaniMichiko. ‘Personal Narratives, All Bounded in Fantasy: “Tenth ofDecember,” Stories by George Saunders.’ Jan, 14, 2013. Accessedfrom
RobertsJason. “Review: George Saunders’ ‘Brain-dead Megaphone.”September 20, 2007. Accessed fromhttp://www.sfgate.com/books/article/Review-George-Saunders-Braindead-Megaphone-2502033.php
Tarnoff,Ben. TheBohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who ReinventedAmerican Literature., 2014. Print.
Williamson,Jennifer A. Twentieth-centurySentimentalism: Narrative Appropriation in American Literature., 2014. Print