Sarah Smith's Reviews > In Persuasion Nation

In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
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Apr 13, 07

Read in April, 2007

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 great stories and I'm glad somebody wrote them, but with his obvious talent for incisive cultural observation, it seemed a little disappointing to watch him reiterate a particular plotline.

So, In Persuasion Nation is a new iteration of similar ideas, which is great. Saunders is a realist in the hyper- sense: as much as these stories may read as farce/science fiction, they're uncomfortably true to the climate of now. (Sometimes the hyper-real voices, likes and ums and weird grammar all together, begin to grate across a few stories. It's a small complaint but worth noting.) And anyway, I can only read so many stories about quiet, mid-life, midwestern desperation.

By the way, if you're interested in hyper-real fiction, you may want to check the Believer for an article a few months back on Doctorow's oscillating ideas about what level of representation constitutes "the real" in fiction.
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