MJ Nicholls's Reviews > Pastoralia

Pastoralia by George Saunders
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Nov 03, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: short-stories, merkins
Read from November 03 to 04, 2010

‘Pastoralia’ (the opening story) shows what Saunders can do. How his prose can be funny and surreal and warm and satirical and touching. Unfortunately, having done this, the other stories in this collection seem like shticky filler. ‘Winky’ was another strong piece, but I found myself snoozing through ‘Sea Oak’ which does a surrealist dance in a ra-ra skirt, and getting annoyed by his rhythms in ‘The Barber’s Unhappiness.’ His repetition, his rambling passages of superfluous detail, how he goes on so long you have forgotten the characters’ names, but that doesn’t matter, as they are barely rendered anyway, and so on . . . cruel and wrong of me? Most likely. My take on Saunders over two years later here.
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Reading Progress

03/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Lee (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lee I'd suggest re-reading "Sea Oak" . . . also, maybe read/re-read "The Overcoat" by Gogol.


message 2: by MJ (new) - rated it 2 stars

MJ Nicholls I'd love to re-read "The Overcoat". I might go back to Saunders in a few years, when I've grown old and bitter.


message 3: by Lee (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lee I bet that his first collection, "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline," might also be found enjoyable by the contemporary literary naif . . .


message 4: by MJ (new) - rated it 2 stars

MJ Nicholls Lee wrote: "I bet that his first collection, "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline," might also be found enjoyable by the contemporary literary naif . . ."

Am I this literary naif of which you speak? Prithee, sir, I am well-informed on modern reading matters. These young oiks Joyce and Homer and so forth.


message 5: by Lee (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lee You naif? No!

I love the word "oiks."

To quote Mark E. Smith:

"At an off-license I rubbed up with some oiks/who threw some change on the Asian counter/Asked polite for a pint or two lagers/A hospital discharge asked me where he could crash/Have you been to the English Deer Park?"


message 6: by MJ (new) - rated it 2 stars

MJ Nicholls Great. You like The Fall. I happen to own all their albums, but we'll put that down to coincidence. Have you read this? You should.


message 7: by Lee (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lee I haven't read that one but I loved Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith


message 8: by Tuck (new)

Tuck i was really impressed by civilwarland, and mj, no shit ALL the fall albums? that's either very sick or very incredible, depending on your point of view i guess.
i'm impressed. hahaha


message 9: by MJ (new) - rated it 2 stars

MJ Nicholls ^^ I meant to say all the studio albums. If I tried to get hold of the live and compilation stuff I really would be sick.


Weston High School Library OMG Sea Oak is a classic!!!!


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