Since its publication in , George Saunders’s debut collection has grown in esteem from a cherished cult classic to a masterpiece of the form, inspiring an. CIVILWARLAND IN BAD DECLINE. W x T HEN a potential big investor comes for the tour the first thing I always do is take them out to the transplanted Erie. Civil War Land in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella. George Saunders, Author Random House (NY) $22 (0p) ISBN
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. In six stories and the novella, Bounty, Saunders introduces readers to people struggling to survive in an increasingly haywire world.
Paperbackpages. Published February 6th by Vintage first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Have you ever heard a politically incorrect joke and laughed, and then felt guilty, but then laughed again? Have you ever driven bd a car wreck and slowed down to see the emergency response vehicles, and the vehicle made to look like a damaged accordion?
Have 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 lowest common denominator humanity? Have you read Civilwarland in Bad Declin Civilwsrland you ever heard a politically incorrect joke and laughed, and then felt guilty, but then laughed again?
Absolutely and unconditionally brilliant. I loved it and am seeking counseling. If Kurt Vonnegut had a redheaded stepchild, that illegitimate heir to the black comedic, satirical throne may be George Saunders. Civilwarland in Bad Decline, his collection of short stories and one novella is Vonnegutesque in the sense that Saunders pokes relentless fun at our society and culture, accepts Louis CK-like the abashed groans, and then plunges ahead with more of his acerbic, vitriolic and wickedly funny as hell slam dunk on our society.
Saunders takes our capitalistic, Judeo-Christian, western civilization morals and bas and delivers an MMA beat down that would make Quinton “Rampage” Jackson wince. His characters wheeze and moan with pathetic life and piss themselves.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
There is casual, negligent murder followed by halfhearted suburban, banal regret. Saunders describes flagrant, unapologetic infidelity both literally and metaphorically. His is not just the gutter, but a glittery and neon bright cesspool meandering into a dog bowl.
Saunders demonstrates his skill with the unreliable narrator the same way Picasso did with the color blue. If he were a harmful drug he would not be heroin but rather a ball peen hammer and a shot of El Torro tequila. Take the eponymous story for example, Civilwarland in Bad Decline.
An absurd parody of a theme civvilwarland suffering financial setbacks amidst roving teenage vandals. There are ghosts of Civil War era people haunting the grounds of the fake interactive museum.
Then there is a mentally disturbed war veteran — in the fake theme park haunted by formerly real live civil war veterans.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
And so it goes. View all 30 comments. Feb 28, s. Saunders, like the ghost of Christmas future, would like to show us where that is leading us. 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 morality.
George 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.
Civil War Land in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella
We see people pushed through degrading drudgery just to survive, dehumanized, enslaved and laughed at, and we see those who have risen above it only looking down with mirthful scorn.
It is this self-centered view that led the world to such a predicament. Dad said she should try to understand that other people, even ignorant people, even poor people, loved their children every bit as much as she loved hers.
The lb 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. I believe he takes more pleasure in his perfect creatures, and cheers them on like a brainless dad as they run roughshod over the rest of us. He gives us a desire to be liked, 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. Much like the darkly comedic works of Flannery O’ConnorSaunders 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 less repugnant than bankruptcy and lowly 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 lead one to being squashed by the corporate gears, as in Downtrodden Mary.
Some people truly are above the laws. 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 themselves.
Saunders 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, the physically less fortunate, the weak and the dumb.
In the wonderful, and wonderfully terrifying novella Bountythose with any deformity, the Flawed, are enslaved and dehumanized. 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.
In each story, civilwarladn world is headed in a terrible direction that is, for the most part, seen as irreversible. Saunders is looking to us, those in the present, to course correct in order to avoid such a grim future.
In nearly every story which is a bit of a point of contention for methe narrator works in a theme-park like resort where wealthy patrons can experience a simulated pure, natural world, often one of times past.
We live 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 line happens each and every civilwarand.
Just because you have the power over another life, you should not kill it, smite it, ridicule it, enslave it or abuse it in any way. We must be good to one another in order for the world to flourish. This collection is a declien 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 one of the great literary satirists. While it has a few rough patches, the collection still manages to soar with its comedy and dark visions.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Preface
In High School we all had to examine how ordinary people could commit terrible atrocities, such as the Nazis and the holocaust, etc. I apologize for the Reductio ad Hitlerum here, but it is necessaryallowing economic pressure and mob mentality to rationalize and assuage civilsarland moral qualms against even the most despicable of actions.
View all 98 comments. Man, this little guy I 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 defline my hanging head in the other.
Maybe I was a bit hard on his later Pastoralia because I needed to warm up to Saunders, maybe my head was just in the right space this time around, or perhaps this really is the superior group of stories.
To start the New Year off in tune with my hangover bluuuuues, I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate tone than Saunders’ bomb crater soul with somehow but barely still beating heart, nihilistic we’re all screwed so let’s laugh Then again, I’m in one of those moods where I would kinda fancy taking a slingshot and a pocket full of acorns into a public square and firing at random.
You may think he needs to lighten up. I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak, his dumb, his fat, his lazy. I wanna marry those words and knock ’em up with, like, sixteen babies.
Then in typical “Saunders hates Capitalism” fashion, there’s this next quote concerning a Civil War reenactor who is–out of nowhere and to his dismay–tasked with the duty of firing live rounds at the pesky youth gangs that have been intruding on and defacing the park where he works. View all 20 comments. Nov 19, Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing.
Using lavish grotesque and generously mocking political correctness and hypocrisy George Saunders thrashes everyday life to pitiful trash, reducing the States to the ridiculous dystopia of dark ages. That 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 lukewarm tea. I wake at first light and hike through miles of failing forest and around noon arrive in a village of paranoiacs standing wit Using lavish grotesque and generously mocking political correctness and hypocrisy George Saunders thrashes everyday life to pitiful trash, reducing the States to the ridiculous dystopia of dark ages.
I wake at first light 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.
No signs of plunder or panic. 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 declin elders have two, and need to be helped on and off with their coats. Economics, politics, ecology, morals and culture degraded dramatically but at the same time civillwarland progressed incongruously. The day it happened, an attractive all-girl glee club was lying around on the concrete in Kawabunga Kove in Day-Glo suits, looking for all the world like 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.