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Tenth of December

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  36,473 Ratings  ·  5,031 Reviews
A new story collection, the first in six years, from one of our greatest living writers, MacArthur "genius grant" recipient and New Yorker contributor George Saunders.

George Saunders is back with a deeply felt collection that takes his literary powers to a new level. In a recent interview, when asked how he saw the role of the writer, Saunders said: "To me, the writer's ma
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Random House (first published January 3rd 2013)
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Deborah Klein Clearly - class disparity, great humanity in "average" people, and the stories themselves all appear to be set in a recent US future where the worst…moreClearly - class disparity, great humanity in "average" people, and the stories themselves all appear to be set in a recent US future where the worst of what we have today has gotten worse. For example illegal immigration issues - the ubiquitous Mexican gardener in California has evolved into a lawn ornament.(less)
Andrea My first thought is that the title reflects the date of the incident.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Feb 02, 2015 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Reading short story collections in one sitting is ill-advised, particularly when they can be as emotionally coals-rakey as Saunders can be. However, there's a certain cloudy state my head can fall in from time to time where he is one of the only voices out there that doesn't make me feel condescended, and can make me laugh despite myself. You know how it is when your brain refuses to be pleased, where you for no good reason just pout like a grade-schooler who doesn't like her birthday present, a ...more
Jan 23, 2013 brian rated it it was ok
the level of genius ain't sufficient to disguise the fact that most of these stories lack heart*. consider DFW and maureen mchugh, both of whom paint with roughly the same palette -- y'know, the pomo'ey, quirky, capitalism & consumerism, blahblahstuff-white-people-like-etcetcetc** -- but whose stories feel not only topical and cultural-critiquey but also weighty and alive. saunders seems in love with an idea and kind of schematically lays it out as if a mere essay in the short, quirky fictio ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Diana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, 2013

The first and last stories in this book are, I think, masterpieces, and affected me more than I would have thought possible-- they're just short stories, after all. In the first one, a dreamy teenage girl is in her house, having fantasies about her own kindness and attractiveness. After only reading her narrative for a minute or two, I felt completely involved, which is uncommon in my experience of short stories. Next I was in the head of a neighbor boy, who is just coming home, the many, many
MJ Nicholls
Feb 06, 2013 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
My second foray into Saunders after a lukewarm response to Pastoralia was an unprecedented success. His writing has sharpened its teeth and mellowed its heart and toned down its comedic chutzpah and the results are staggering pieces like ‘Escape From Spiderhead,’ a short moral parable that builds to a slow, devastating climax, ‘The Semplica Girl Diaries,’ a long moral parable that unfurls creepier revelations and a deeper-rooted sadness with each page, and ‘Home,’ a medium-sized moral parable th ...more
One of the stories in this collection features experimental drugs that can enhance someone’s verbal ability to describe an event. I feel like I could use a few doses of that stuff to help me review this book because I’m struggling to articulate what I found so good about it.

At a basic level, there are ten short stories that reminded me somewhat of Kurt Vonnegut because Saunders uses sci-fi concepts and humor in several of them to depict various aspects of human nature, but this has some nastier
Mar 15, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
You know those disconcerting dreams where nothing you can do will seem right; lose-lose propositions are the only ones on offer? Well George Saunders is the large deluxe pizza you ate before bed. He's the likely culprit.

I started with a comment about Saunders himself because his stories, and collections in general, are hard to review. Plot summaries don’t really work because there are too many of them. Unifying themes aren’t always easy to come by either. Even if there are common threads, they’
Paul Bryant
It's aggravating when all the critics turn out to be right and us readers just feel like we're trooping along behind them baa-ing and bleating obediently George Saunders go-o-o-o-d, Dan Brown ba-a-a-a-d. The cover of this book is festooned like a Chrismas tree with blurby simperings from Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Jon McGregor and o, yes, Thomas Pynchon. I guess after that lot they couldn't be bothered to call up Philip Roth, Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela. I bet those three ...more
Dec 16, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I like reading short stories but I hate writing about them. A short story is so fleeting and ephemeral -- it's like trying to describe a cloud.

This collection of 10 short stories by George Saunders is especially difficult and elusive. His writing is rich and visual, but there is always danger lurking for each character. I had to take a pause break after finishing each story because I felt so unsettled.

My favorite stories were "Victory Lap," which involved two high school students and a traumatic
Natalie Tyler
Saunders is not for me; he is cut from a cloth that I cannot comfortably wear. I would categorize him with Pynchon, Eggers, Donald Barthelme, de Lillo, David Foster Wallace, Thom Jones, and Ward Just. I just cannot get along with these authors, just like I cannot get along with certain types of music. I can search for a sentence or two that is remarkable but I just cannot go with their flow.

I like so many authors and there are so many books that I will never read because I will have died first,
Jan 28, 2013 meeners rated it it was amazing
when did george saunders become so well known? i don't mean that to sound snarky - i am honestly astonished (and delighted) by the lavish attention tenth of december has been getting. i count george saunders high on my list of favorite living authors, but for the longest time i labored under the apparently woefully misguided assumption that he was unjustly unknown and unfeted (despite his regular appearances in the new yorker et al.). i was all set to write a magnum opus of a goodreads review in ...more
Sep 01, 2012 Greg rated it liked it
Three stars???

You gave the Adam Levin short story collection five stars, and this three stars?


Someone could probably successfully argue me out of this opinion, but there was a feeling that too many of the stories in this collection were not substantial enough. Maybe it is that it has been so long since his last collection was released that I felt there should be something more here. I did like all of the stories, none of them were groan worthy but none of them really stood out either. Mayb
Feb 10, 2013 Trish rated it it was amazing
It is quite something to come across a writer of versatility and skill who doesn’t figure (now that they have your ear—you bought the book, didn’t you?) they will add more than they need just because they can. This is a slim volume of stories that all of us should have--to read, to cherish, and to share. Saunders has a distinct voice that reveals us as we are now. We may say that his stories do not have the language of the old masters, but they have the language we use, with more kindness, gener ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Leonard rated it did not like it
When this book was released in January of this year I heard that one reviewer proclaimed it the "best book of the year." I guess there's some wisdom in some circumstances to not have very high expectations, like when anticipating the accomplishments of the latest election winnners, but certainly the contemporary publishing industry in this country and world is still turning out enough remarkable writing, that we can at least be hopeful throughout the year.

Unfortunately this is not one of those
I wanted to like this one more than I did. I had never heard of the author until a friend recommended him; I then found his name popping up a lot as I read this collection. Saunders is a current literary darling, specializing in short stories, and has been generally very well-received.

Tenth of December is a collection of ten short stories. Length varies dramatically, from a couple of pages to much longer. Saunders has been praised for his style; initially I took it to be a conceit of one of his
Mar 19, 2014 Teresa rated it liked it
3 and 1/2 stars

Short story collections are generally a mixed grab bag, but this one seems particularly so, especially for someone like me who is not drawn to what I take to be Saunders' usual style (this is my first reading of him). The stories range from the heartfelt to the cold and smug: I loved the former and found the latter off-putting.

A quick look at my updates will reveal that I liked more of the stories than I disliked. There were a couple I loved, but of a couple I felt the emperor was
Feb 21, 2015 Melanie rated it really liked it
My first experience with Saunders was quite an adventure. Other than a few stories which I didn't even understand, this collection was really stunning. The book deserves five stars on the sole basis of a few stories, especially the title story at the end, which was simply unforgettable and haunting. Saunders' stylistic genius is without question and his psychological depiction of our daily moral choices is fantastic. A literary tour-de-force.
Dec 10, 2014 Melki rated it really liked it
Saunders is a master at taking the ordinary, the usual, the hum-drum and tossing in a bit of bizarro ( some cases, it's a whole lot of bizarro!) to mess with the proceedings. Not every one of these stories hit the jackpot with me, but the ones that did were right on the money.

And, yes, I did wait until today, December 10th to read the title story.

Sometimes I'm so cute I make myself sick.
Feb 15, 2013 Mark rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-hate
This is the first Saunders book I've read, and given the amount of hype his name has generated in the literary community as of late I was really looking forward to delving into his world. Honestly though, I didn't care for this selection of short stories. 'Victory Lap' was okay...decent enough to re-read, even. But it just went downhill from there. Towards the end of the book I found that I was forcing myself to finish the book just for the sake of finishing the book. I had grown tired of his, w ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
In late 2004 I was reading an older issue of The Believer and came across Ryan Bartelmay's interview with Philip Seymour Hoffman. Prior to the interview they agreed to talk about some of their favorite books (PSH at that time was reading Capote's works in preparation for what would be his Oscar winning portrayal of the author); Bartelmay had The Believer send Hoffman a copy of Saunders' Pastoralia as a possible discussion topic. During the interview, the two of them start discussing, and laughin ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, odd, so-lovely
First Gent--Did you hear the New York Times has a TOTAL CRUSH on Tenth of December?
Second Gent--WHAAAAAT the Times never gets crushes on anyone! It's like an ice creature!
First Gent--Yep. They were practically making out in the hallway the other day. The Times was ALL OVER ToD. I mean it was kind of GROSS.
Second Gent--[faintly] Fan me.


Oh my goodness. George Saunders is one of those writers who are so damn good it's awkward trying to praise them. You need a S
Sep 07, 2013 Jenne rated it it was amazing
Me: Okay but I don' stories. Like at all.

Book: Dude that is totally fine but just read like the first one.

Me: fine

Book: I STAB you in the face with my awesome!!

Me: ..!



Book: How about this last story?!

Me: shh I am having feelings
Jr Bacdayan
Mar 02, 2014 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it
There are small cracks in life which go unnoticed or avoided by the general lot of humanity. Little crevices that are perfect mixtures of bliss and sorrow, wunderkinds that jolt one into a sense of appreciation, bewilderment, wonder at this thing called life. George Saunders’ collection of stories delves into these wells to produce emotions from the very depths of being. His stories show the good in places where we fail to find it, stories of compassion to people who we condemn, stories of the u ...more
Glenn Sumi
Jan 27, 2015 Glenn Sumi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Urgent, humane and deeply felt short stories by an absolute master of the form.

Saunders’s voice is distinct, dark and confident, and he’s got a remarkable ability to set up narratives – some featuring dystopic settings – efficiently and with a minimum of fuss.

The theme of chivalry and rescue runs through many of these stories, from the bravura opening story (“Victory Lap”) about an abduction attempt – told in three distinct voices – to the final two, one a tragicomic tale about a man trying to d
Stephen M
Having just finished these stories & vowing not to be 1 of those reviewers who writes like the writer, wanted to write a few things anyway. Like 1, that he has characters that do the wildest stuff.
Who is George Saunders? Just an academic type or really good. That’s for you to decide. Fell asleep reading many times. That’s how good. Once woke up thinking that two Dwarves were performing coitus outside my window (!) but just cicadas. Always cicadas.
Reminds me. Need to get screen-in por
Mar 02, 2013 Juan rated it really liked it
This collection is like reading the tandem effort of Chekhov's compassion and Twain's funnybone in trying to wrap around the lives of Raymond Carver's characters. Laughed out loud several times per story; always something to be grateful for. The compassion and the humor, though, tend to feel somewhat programmatic, as if he were trying too hard, possibly a consequence of the repetition of themes or tropes in the collection. Very good book though, despite the crazy hype.
Mar 04, 2013 Aeron rated it really liked it
I fully expected to be disappointed by this book. I mean, all the praise, the endless interviews on NPR, the blurbs in seemingly every magazine and newspaper. And it doesn't help that when you hear Saunders being interviewed, he's so self deprecating, and dang it, sweet sounding. I couldn't help but think - this is just all too much.

But then I read the book. Saunders' fictional world is distinct from the real world. Society's flaws are exaggerated almost to - but not quite reaching - the absurd,
Karolyn Sherwood
Jan 25, 2013 Karolyn Sherwood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book, TENTH OF DECEMBER, by George Saunders, makes me want to reduce every other book I've ever rated down one star. Because to give this book Five Stars, along with the twenty or so other books that I have given Five Stars, just isn't fair.

This book proves that it's possible for ME to LIKE short story collections written by white, middle-aged American men. (See previous reviews for Hemingway, Diaz, Denis Johnson, JD Salinger.) Saunders is able to do in a few pages what most authors will ne
Kasa Cotugno
During a recent discussion at a book club where the current selection was one of short stories, our group agreed that with few exceptions, most collections seemed uneven -- that the lead story was usually the strongest and many of the others tended to comprise a mixed bag. At that time, I hadn't read The Tenth of December, and now would like to add George Saunders to that limited list of authors whose short stories are strong and involving, compelling and transformative, from the opening to the ...more
Mar 26, 2013 Owen rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Short version: It's not so funny anymore.

The shit lives Saunders portrays, at the mercy of corporations and technologies, are too familiar, too plausible, too full of unrelieved pain. And the weird, clipped, bureaucratic diction he employs—to demonstrate that even our language itself is trapped in these inhuman boxes—is mostly painful to take in, and when it's funny it's uncomfortable because we're trying to laugh at boxes we're inside too.

Times have changed since CivilWarLand in Bad Decline; Sa
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was lucky to score a review copy of the audio of these stories from Random House (you can listen to a 4 minute excerpt on their website). The stories are read by the author, which I really love hearing in his voice. He has a somewhat dry tone that lends well the simultaneous whimsy and morbidity that are found in his stories. I have read several volumes of Saunders' short stories, and this combination of light with dark is his style, but he is able to make it fresh with each new story.

The Semp
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Around the Year i...: Tenth of December, by George Saunders 3 16 Jan 13, 2016 12:54PM  
  • You Think That's Bad
  • The Fun Parts
  • We Live in Water
  • The Miniature Wife and Other Stories
  • Battleborn
  • Flying to America: 45 More Stories
  • The Isle of Youth: Stories
  • The Color Master: Stories
  • Vampires in the Lemon Grove
  • A Guide to Being Born: Stories
  • The Collected Stories
  • Bobcat and Other Stories
  • Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
  • Fools: Stories
  • Bark: Stories
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
  • I Want to Show You More
  • We Others: New and Selected Stories
George Saunders was born December 2, 1958 and raised on the south side of Chicago. In 1981 he received a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. He worked at Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, NY as a technical writer and geophysical engineer from 1989 to 1996. He has also worked in Sumatra on an oil exploration geophysi ...more
More about George Saunders...

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“Why were we put here, so inclined to love, when end of our story = death? That harsh. That cruel. Do not like.” 28 likes
“It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within it.” 27 likes
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