In Persuasion Nation
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In Persuasion Nation

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  4,443 ratings  ·  443 reviews
The stories In Persuasion Nation are easily his best work yet. "The Red Bow,"about a town consumed by pet-killing hysteria, won a 2004 National Magazine Award and "Bohemians," the story of two supposed Eastern European widows trying to fit in in suburban USA, is included in The Best American Short Stories 2005. His new book includes both unpublished work, and stories that...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Riverhead Trade (first published 2006)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Not my favorite Saunders, though to be clear, my rating is specifically on a Saunders scale rather than a "compared to all other short story books" type of thing. That may or not be fair (okay, it's not), but it can't really be helped after you've spent enough time with a particular author. Though I enjoyed a few of these quite a bit, the collection as a whole felt like more of a chore than any other collection of his that I've read. In fact, I usually find Saunders to be especially not impatien...more
Jessica
Jan 05, 2011 Jessica marked it as sampled-a-few
I'm sure this has been said before, but Madison Avenue suffered a grave loss when this guy decided to go into fiction.

I really enjoyed all the stories in the first, ad-themed section, but it's sort of been on a gentle downhill from there. Some of these -- like "The Red Ribbon," the only one I'd read before -- got too message-y for me. Still, I'm liking it. I've been embarrassed in public when it's been revealed that I'm the only one of my friends who has never read George Saunders. I guess this...more
Yulia
May 07, 2008 Yulia marked it as left-unfinished
Shelves: short-stories
He has cute ideas, but he drags them on to the point where they simply become annoying and boring. Reading him is like choosing one food to eat on a deserted island for the rest of your life. Good luck. Is he a cutting social satirist? I would look elsewhere.
Ryan Chapman
May 09, 2007 Ryan Chapman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction
George Saunders is like The Onion for the literati. He's hilarious, to be sure, but also capable of parsing the 9/11 reaction by the U.S. in a brilliant five-page allegory.
Maggie
Last week I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I was supposed to have spent my summer tracking down supplementary readings for a unit on media manipulation, but as of two days before my due date I hadn't found one single thing. Honestly, I hadn't even bothered to try. In short, I was screwed. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue by suggesting In Persuasion Nation, a collection of short stories by George Saunders, and it proved perfect for my needs. (And thank God I can read a book in a day. W...more
Ryandake
some books, i don't really know what to say, except that i know genius when i read it.

this book of short stories gives a person more to think about life than a rack full of self-help books. Saunders is telling us crucial things about contemporary life in some funny, bitter, outrageous, out-there ways that (at least to my limited skill) defy description.

i guess the most accurate thing i can say about his work is that each story is like a zen koan--just when you think you've got a grip on it, it m...more
Sarah Smith
George Saunders seems to have made a pretty solid career for himself by skewering the massively weird and distant ways we consume goods (and by goods here I mean history and information as well as pre-packed food dreck). After reading his last few books I admit I was a little worried for George--it seemed like he had found a good basic situation in CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia, mostly the struggle to remain authentically human in a themepark simulation of the real world. These are...more
Drew
In Persuasion Nation's stories' main concern here, at least with most of the stories, seems to be the increasingly blurred line between advertising and regular life. One story's about a reality show that contains its own commercials; another is actually about the characters in commercials (specifically the schlemiels, the ones who always lose out). And most of it comes off as really absurd, especially when you add in other Saunders mainstays like ghosts and corpses. But mostly what I've been thi...more
Justin Evans
I like that every reviewer says this collection is uneven, and then everyone goes on to list different stories as the good ones. It is uneven. My two cents: the more 'experimental' the story in this collection is, the better it is. The whole "looks cynical and ironic... looks a little less cynical... turns out to have a real heart beneath the irony... oh my god I'm in tears" thing only works if you don't jump straight to the tears as we do in 'Christmas', and only works if you don't skip the rea...more
pepe abola
hypothetically, george saunders is an author i should like. he is unabashedly progressive, very experimental, and witty. also, i loved pretty much everything in "pastoralia." two years ago when i was in graduate school, i held him in the highest esteem, seeing him as something of a descendant of one of my favorites, donald barthelme (yes i am a snobby snob snob snob).

anyhow. this book thoroughly disappointed me. the great stories in it, less than half, were great stories. the rest were all faile...more
Lobstergirl
Most of the stories in this collection are relentlessly similar, situated in consumerist dystopias or just plain weirdness; Brad Carrigan, American, is the best of these. One of the more affecting stories is Christmas, about a loserish young man who lives in his aunt's basement in Chicago, works on a roofing crew with a bunch of even worse-off n'er-do-wells, and doesn't have good enough prospects to hang on to his girlfriend. Saunders grew up on the south side of Chicago. I have no idea if the s...more
Adam
Apr 22, 2008 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Summer readers, smartasses, lefties (politically)
I like Saunders, although he does lay it on a bit thick at times. Subtlety is hard to put one's finger on...Anyway, He's got the right take on things, in the sense that he's opinionated in the same way about the same things I am, and expresses those opinions in a very smartass manner. Always willing to be preached to in the choir, here.

There's a dark streak to some of the stories, and the bits of black humor kind of fell flat with me. It was almost as if he's a nice guy who's got a great concept...more
Nick Black
i'm gonna give george saunders two more chances, and that's it. yeah, we get it. you don't like commercaials. none of us do. stop being a pretentious douchebag, dude; you teach at syracuse. last time i checked, GT beat you 56-0 in 2013 ACC football, and we barely know the english alphabet. NYPL checkout.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The first 4 stories in this book are delightfully, satirically funny! They are very clever commentary on our current American lifestyle.
The very last story (commcomm) has some absolutely hilarious, laugh-out-loud lines poking fun at ultra-religious people and govt. bureaucrat-speak.

The rest of the book (pages 73 through 195) is mostly a waste of time and just plain stupid. I read through them hoping to find more good ones, but they were terrible, especially "93990"!
Mia
3.5 stars. I was wondering what I would think of George Saunders after all the hype (which I was only exposed to very recently). I have to say, yes, he is a fantastic writer with a totally unique style--and one that I like. And boy, is he DARK. I mean, I like dark. And I love dystopian fiction. And I liked this book a lot. But it was sometimes really painful to read. So while I acknowledge how objectively "good" it is, I just can't bring myself to say I loved it because almost all the stories le...more
Paul
Crazy funny. The first story of the collection, a response letter to a customer who is unhappy with her purchase of a device that fits over an infant's head and makes it look/sound/seem like the infant is talking (called I CAN SPEAK!(TM)), is absolutely hilarious. George Saunders is just really funny. The collection as a collection gets a bit heavy-handed, like, yeah, we all know that America is super commercial/ized, and everyone buys a bunch of worthless crap and watches junk on TV (there are...more
Dan
I cannot say enough about this book. It's a collection of short stories that was published a couple of years ago. I haven't read short stories in a really long time and reading this book was completely refreshing.

I don't know much about this author except that he contributes to the New Yorker, Harper's and GQ. I am now going to seek much of his work.

There is an impressive range in his material. Most of the time he is writing with this wry or absurd sense of humor. But then you'll move onto the...more
Shawn Sorensen
Saunders sits on a butte - elevated due to several uplifting reviews yet isolated from many readers by underdeveloped or weird, finger-scratching-forehead writing.

With so many short stories to choose from here, I'd like to report that there are some gems, namely "my flamboyant grandson", "93990" and "commcomm". In "flamboyant" a grandfather heroically takes his weird grandson to a Broadway play. I say heroic because Times Square has turned into a mecca even more commercialized than it is now, w...more
Andy
I'm a sizable Saunders' fan, so I approached this book with some sense of anticipation. For the most part, my appetite for good short fiction was met. I thought there were a few more "misses" among the collection than I remember from either CivilWarLand... or Pastoralia. These include "I CAN SPEAK!" (reminded me of the 90's era SNL skit "Super Happy Fun Ball" which is unspeakably awesome, but this story took the concept a little too far), "My Amendment" (a loud unfunny satire), and "93990" (whic...more
Kiersten Lawson
Another hilariously sad dystopian satirical story collection by bona fide literary genius George Saunders. "My Flamboyant Grandson" paints a near-future scene of invasive digital mayhem that comes to mind often.

"'You and your wife are in the prayers of me and our church,' he says to Rimney. 'Despite of what you may think of me.' 'You're in my prayers too,' says Rimney. 'I'm always praying you stop being so sanctimonious and miraculously get less full of shit.'"

"She wore only black. She said the...more
Thurston Hunger
Long ago, before DVR's people were lined up at electron-gunpoint and forced to watch commercials. This planted an irritating seed in Saunders that nurtured by the decay of America's service economy has blossomed into this collection.

If I were to re-read this, I'd read one story...and then read some other stuff and then come back to the next story a few days later. Using some kind of magical bedpost to keep the bubble gum as fresh as possible. I did enjoy reading "i can speak TM" to my wife and t...more
Amanda Davidson
Jul 06, 2008 Amanda Davidson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: you
Recommended to Amanda by: The Frog
Oh, no. I haven't felt this damaged or fucked up/moved by a book since reading Jesus' Son, or maybe Autobiography of Red. You know how many authors settle into a signature style or approach, that maybe has to do with working out certain artistic problems, but maybe it also has to do with publishers/editors putting out the most consistent pieces to create an even or marketable literary product, and maybe I'm being a little bit paranoid, and maybe it's also a little bit true? Not so here. In Persu...more
Eric
"In Persuasion Nation" swings from brilliant to condescending and the mean lies somewhere in between. I love Saunders' writing, but he needs to broaden his subject matter or work at his characterization a little better. His beautiful story "Bohemians" captures something about the way we perceived the world when we were younger. "93990" was brilliantly executed, espectially when compared to the horribly condescending "Brad Carrigan, American" which is every bit as vapid as the ignorance it purpor...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I had the pleasure of getting to talk with legendary author George Saunders for CCLaP's podcast last week, a rare treat given how in demand he is on this latest tour even among the major media; but that meant I had to do some serious cramming in the few weeks leading up to our talk, in that (I guiltily con...more
Kevin
Could I love this guy any more than I do now? It's possible. There is one other book of his I haven't read yet.

This one doesn't have the breadth or scope of Pastoralia or CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, but it's easier to get at Saunders' morals and the units that make up his writing and stories here. Both are very satisfying and entertaining to see. He cracks me up as he makes me worried about humanity, which is hard to do and amazing to read. I liked his take on same-sex marriage in My Amendment....more
Tim
Aug 31, 2008 Tim rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tim by: bro
Saunders is unabashedly forthright about his opinions, but unfortunately (pardon me) I found some of these opinions to be dubious. I'm not sure what it was, but Nation mostly didn't take with me. I don't think I got his sense of humor. It was either above me or below me at most times and about half way in I felt I was trudging my way through to the end. When I was turned on to Saunders I expected someone along the lines as Stuart Dybek but got Steven King instead, just with a bit less horror, co...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Can there be too much good Saunders? Critics praise the book but then admit that reading the stories in succession almost overwhelmed them. As he did in CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia, Saunders takes our world to its logical extremes, sometimes to the point of oversaturation. If his work seems avant-garde, it's approachably so, probably because of his ability to "construct a story of absurdist satire, then locate within it a moment of searing humanity" (Boston Globe). There is some

...more
Jason Jordan
Until recently, Saunders’s fiction has hit the mark every time it’s attempted to do so. The short story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (Riverhead, 1996) and Pastoralia (2000) were great surrealist fiction entries, as was the novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (Riverhead, 2005), but In Persuasion Nation (Riverhead, 2006) is a mixed bag. A few stories work. Most, however, do not....

Read the rest in the June 2007 issue of decomP .
Daniel Simmons
Hilarious, pointed, poignant genius. I can't believe I didn't discover this guy years ago.
Mbreaden
I always love George Saunders. He writes like Raymond Carver on LSD, I like to say. In fact, one of his shorter stories in here, "Christmas," is one of the most enjoyable I've ever read. (Not because it's the best he's ever done, just because I can identify with the main character.) Some of the stories get a little too trippy and abstract for me, I liked the deeply hopeless and fully fleshed-out characters in CivilWarLand a bit more. But there are some more basic Saunders-type gems in this volum...more
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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
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Tenth of December CivilWarLand in Bad Decline Pastoralia The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil The Braindead Megaphone

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“There comes that phase in life when, tired of losing, you decide to stop losing, then continue losing. Then you decide to really stop losing, and continue losing. The losing goes on and on so long you begin to watch with curiosity, wondering how low you can go. ” 38 likes
“America, to me, should be shouting all the time, a bunch of shouting voices, most of them wrong, some of them nuts, but please, not just one droning glamourous reasonable voice.” 13 likes
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