Holly's Reviews > Pastoralia

Pastoralia by George Saunders
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Aug 13, 2016

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Read in September, 2011

Surprisingly strange short story collection; includes title story "Pastoralia", which is set in a future where "normal" people work in a corporate theme park personifying cave men, hermits, peasants, etc. while being corporately managed via notes/memos. "Sea Oak" is about a male stripper whose self-sacrificing aunt comes back from the dead.

Read this w/ my book club, who found the book depressing. They are no more depressing than your average Joyce Carol Oates or pick of Oprah reads. Finding subtle humor in the lives of people who barely get along, those who are not highly educated, those who are manipulated by self-help groups and corporate messages and consumerism is a response to those same ills in society. The book feels more honestly ironic and funny than depressing. It's funny in the same way movies like Napoleon Dynamite are funny - and if those aren't depressing high school moments of existence, I don't know what is!

Fabulous cover art...which is why I decided to read it. Ah, the power of the visual.

Blurbs can be damaging; why compare Saunders w/ Vonnegut/Pynchon? He is not the same and has his own humor and unique life outlook to offer.
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08/13/2016 marked as: read

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