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With this new collection, George Saunders takes us even further into the shocking, uproarious and oddly familiar landscape of his imagination.

The stories in Pastoralia are set in a slightly skewed version of America, where elements of contemporary life have been merged, twisted, and amplified, casting their absurdity—and our humanity—in a startling new light. Whether he writes a gothic morality tale in which a male exotic dancer is haunted by his maiden aunt from beyond the grave, or about a self-help guru who tells his followers his mission is to discover who's been "crapping in your oatmeal," Saunders's stories are both indelibly strange and vividly real.

188 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2000

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About the author

George Saunders

105 books8,551 followers
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 geophysics crew, as a doorman in Beverly Hills, a roofer in Chicago, a convenience store clerk, a guitarist in a Texas country-and-western band, and a knuckle-puller in a West Texas slaughterhouse.

After reading in People magazine about the Master's program at Syracuse University, he applied. Mr. Saunders received an MA with an emphasis in creative writing in 1988. His thesis advisor was Doug Unger.

He has been an Assistant Professor, Syracuse University Creative Writing Program since 1997. He has also been a Visiting Writer at Vermont Studio Center, University of Georgia MayMester Program, University of Denver, University of Texas at Austin, St. Petersburg Literary Seminar (St. Petersburg, Russia, Summer 2000), Brown University, Dickinson College, Hobart & William Smith Colleges.

He conducted a Guest Workshop at the Eastman School of Music, Fall 1995, and was an Adjunct Professor at Saint John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, 1990-1995; and Adjunct Professor at Siena College, Loudonville, New York in Fall 1989.

He is married and has two children.

His favorite charity is a project to educate Tibetan refugee children in Nepal. Information on this can be found at http://www.tibetan-buddhist.org/index...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,841 reviews
Profile Image for Rob.
Author 2 books366 followers
March 14, 2023
Imagine for a moment that you go into the up-scale liquor store around the block that is celebrated city-wide for its fabulous wine selection. You're a bit of a novice when it comes to wine and are a little embarrassed to be here because your wallet is that ballistic nylon stuff and not something truly exotic like alligator skin and with that in mind you decide not to ask the sommelier for any help. You browse around the store looking for a bottle of something called David Foster Wallace that was recommended to you by your friend with the alligator skin wallet. You manage to find the bottle of DFW and admire the fancy bottle with its fancy label and its curlicues and footnotes and excellent leading. The bottle seems really heavy and big and everyone has told you how excellent it is. So you decide to try it but when you actually get to the counter you discover that you've picked up a bottle of something called George Saunders by mistake. The George Saunders bottle isn't as big or as fancy as the DFW and in fact it looks a little bit like a down-market or off-label knock-off of the vintage DFW but at the same time you believe that there is maybe something authentic and distinct about it anyway. The sommelier gives you a funny look as he rings you up but you don't say anything because you don't want to look stupid in front of him and anyway you're probably just being self-conscious about the whole thing like the time you had a glass of Pynchon at your friend's house and you said that it was a good Vonnegut and everyone laughed and your friend explained that the Vonnegut has a much sharper finish and you'll notice how the Pynchon seems to hang around in your mouth so much longer but he could see how you might make that mistake. And you try to think about that night on your drive home because it's that same friend with the alligator skin wallet that is coming over for dinner tonight with his wife and you remember how he plays golf with your boss and this is an important event to get right. So that night before the main course you pour everyone's glass in the kitchen so that no one will see the bottle and the secret will be safe with you. And your wife brings out the entree and you bring out the wine and everyone digs in and finds it delicious. Your friend with the alligator skin wallet remarks on how delicious the wine is and did you have any trouble finding the David Foster Wallace at the store? And was the sommelier there helpful? And what year did he recommend because this is really really quite good? And you smile and try to decide whether or not to say anything because you know that you'll need to say something but how are you going to make up something plausible on the spot. But then your wife blurts out that it's really a George Saunders and don't you just love it? Because she slurped down her glass of George Saunders and it was her third of the night anyway because she and your friend's wife managed to down a whole bottle of David Sedaris as a warm-up but they both agreed it was too dry for them even though you and your friend think that it's the perfect middle-of-the-week wine. For a moment you're paralyzed with fear because this was your shot, your chance to show off and really shine and display your competence and you blew it because you were too chicken shit to tell the sommelier at the counter that you picked up the wrong bottle by mistake. But instead your friend raises an eyebrow and says that it's wonderful, just delightful, and he'd never tried it before and though maybe it's not as dry as the DFW, does it ever have a great finish and it's just perfect for a dinner party, isn't it?
Profile Image for Guille.
738 reviews1,436 followers
February 13, 2021

Grandísima lectura. Un magnífico puñado de buenos cuentos que me han gustado incluso más que ese otro gran puñado que se recogían en “Diez de diciembre”, en los que Saunders mostraba una mayor tendencia a la respuesta explícita a las distopías que en ellos planteaba. Aquí los finales son más abiertos o menos categóricos, con un resultado, para mí, mucho más amargo y efectivo.

De Saunders, me fascina su estilo naiff tan cargado de mala leche, como plasma con una sencillez extraordinaria, con una engañosa inocencia, el lugar al que nos dirigimos (o peor aun, el lugar donde ya estamos sin darnos cuenta) en cuanto a relaciones laborales, sociales o familiares, consiguiendo que te conmuevas ante los patéticos hechos y los grotescos personajes que pueblan sus mundos y que, al mismo tiempo, te indignes ante lo que son, lo que suponen y la verdad que encierran.

En la gran literatura la línea recta no tiene por qué ser el camino más corto ni el más interesante de recorrer. En los cuentos de Saunders, la narración es exagerada, los paisajes distorsionados, los personajes se mueven en ese estado de infantilismo que parece imponerse más cada día en una parte cada vez más importante de la sociedad, en el que predomina esa crueldad básica de los niños que exigen la satisfacción inmediata y fácil de sus deseos más primarios; esos sin-clase que ya han bajado los brazos ante lo que les han convencido que es irremediable, que se dejan ir y conducir y son tratados por jefes, vecinos, clientes, y, lo que es más grave, por ellos mismos, como lo que son, elementos sociales, laborales o políticos totalmente prescindibles e intercambiables. Las derrotas íntimas, las miserias y mezquindades cotidianas, los comportamientos cobardes, los autoengaños, las fantasías consoladoras, estrategias en las que todos caemos con mayor o menor insistencia, son narradas en fantásticos diálogos interiores, mostrándonos unos cuantos motivos de nuestra congénita falta de felicidad, imposible de alcanzar e incluso de perseguir.
Profile Image for carol..
1,513 reviews7,688 followers
December 8, 2019
DECEMBER EDIT: So when this title popped up as someone 'liked' it, I thought, "wow, I am truly losing my mind. I don't recognize that title. And that cover? That looks COMPLETELY unlike my taste." When I investigated further, I discovered it was a collection, not the short story I originally reviewed. Yet another stand-alone story originally rated and reviewed that was smashed into a new title. I officially Wish a Thousand Female Mosquitoes Upon Each of the Librarians that condone this shit.

Meanwhile, back at the review for "Sea Oak "

"Matt Merton comes back [on the reality show] and explains that last week's show on suicide, in which the parents watched a reenactment of their son's suicide, was a healing process for the parents, then shows a video of the parents admitting it was a healing process."

Saunders manages a truly amazing tone, so dry that it burns, and yet there manages to be a little bit of humor in it, and even compassion. Eventually it starts to wear thin, as his ability to create the feel of desperation becomes overwhelming--sure it's funny and a little crazy, but its quite, quite real--but that's when he changes it up. The optimist in the family returns in a whole new role.

"What a nice day we've had," Aunt Bernie says once we've got the babies in bed.
"Man, what an optometrist," says Jade.

Fiona's review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The story: http://www.barcelonareview.com/20/e_g...
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,392 reviews3,267 followers
March 18, 2019
“Bread and circuses,” ancients used to say… And George Saunders smartly turns the art of modern entertainment into an effervescent absurdist comedy.
Pastoralia is some sort of luna park or freak show established to educate and amuse the public. The protagonist works there impersonating a caveman.
And the ways the society is being entertained tell everything about society as such too…
“Remember I told you about Chief Joseph, who never stopped walking? You’re like him. My brave little warrior. Bibby, give him a juice box. Also he’s got some goo-goo coming out of his nosehole.”
“Jesus Christ,” Janet mumbles.
I give her my sternest look.
“What was that?” says the dad. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. What did you just say?”
“Nothing,” Janet says. “I didn’t say nothing.”
“I heard you very clearly,” says the dad. “You said Jesus Christ. You said Jesus Christ because of what I said about the goo-goo in my son’s nosehole. Well, first of all, I’m sorry if you find a little boy’s nosehole goo-goo sickening, it’s perfectly normal, if you had a kid of your own you’d know that, and second of all, since when do cavepeople speak English and know who Jesus Christ is? Didn’t the cavepeople predate Christ, if I’m not mistaken?”
“Of course they did,” the mom says from outside. “We just came from Christ. Days of Christ. And we’re going backwards. Towards the exit.”
“Look, pal, I got a kid,” says Janet. “I seen plenty of snot. I just never called it goo-goo. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Bibby, get this,” the dad says. “Parenting advice from the cavelady. The cavelady apparently has some strong opinions on booger nomenclature. For this I paid eighty bucks? If I want somebody badly dressed to give me a bunch of lip I can go to your mother’s house.”
“Very funny,” says the mom.
“I meant it funny,” says the dad.
“I was a good mom,” Janet says. “My kid is as good as anybody’s kid.”
“Hey, share it with us,” says the dad.
“Even if he is in jail,” says Janet.
“Bibby, get this,” says the dad. “The cavelady’s kid is in jail.”
“Don’t you even make fun of my kid, you little suckass,” says Janet.
“The cavelady just called you a suckass,” says the mom.

Winky is an acrid fable of religion and hatred…
From out of his suit he pulled a bowl and a box of oatmeal, and filled the bowl with the oatmeal and held the bowl up.
“Simple, nourishing, inexpensive,” he said. “This represents your soul in its pure state. Your soul on the day you were born. You were perfect. You were happy. You were good.

Sea Oak is a blasphemously weird tale of an unholy resurrection.
The Barber’s Unhappiness is a story of a dork dreaming to have a kiss of his life…
In the mirror was a skeletal mask of blue and purple and pink that the barber knew was his face but couldn’t quite believe was his face, because in the past his face had always risen to the occasion. In the past his face could always be counted on to amount to more than the sum of its parts when he smiled winningly, but now when he smiled winningly he looked like a corpse trying to appear cheerful in a wind tunnel. His eyes bulged, his lips were thin, his forehead wrinkles were deep as sticklines in mud.

Misfits and losers – they have a special niche reserved for them in this world.
Profile Image for Madeleine.
Author 2 books853 followers
April 18, 2013
Based on the opinions of people with excellent taste in books, I knew I was in for something good when I grabbed Pastoralia from the shelf the other day. I didn't know what to expect beyond that but it sure wasn't the sardonic giggles this collection gave me. Does everyone find their first foray into Saunders's mind this darkly endearing? 'Cause.... lemme tell you, you all led me somewhere I can't wait to revisit.

There is something off about the worlds Saunders creates. Not off-the-charts unbelievably weird but there's this vertiginous element to them that makes being jarred from such a mercilessly absorbing reading experience by, say, the unwelcome intrusion of your job (whyyyyyyy do you people keep assuming I'm here to proofread your ineptitude when I'm so clearly lost in something that is infinitely more rewarding than your refusals to grasp the nuances of proper comma usage and pica distances WHYYYY?) a little disorienting upon reentry. I encountered a thing that doesn't happen often enough while reading this short-story collection: I forgot I was reading because I was so engrossed in the tales Saunders was weaving. Picturing the story that was taking shape right in front of me was equal parts riveting and really quite disturbing. Kind of like the clown car on fire that you'll snap photos of as you pass the gruesome scene but fuck no you're not stopping to help because it's a car full of clowns and everyone knows that clowns are evil but then the sadness of the whole thing hits you when you post the picture (along with an appropriately glib comment) on Twitter later but you're still snickering about the image for days.

And then there is something distinctly, deliciously Vonnegut-flavored here, too, but Saunders even makes that all his own. While Vonnegut's humor seemed like that of a cranky but avuncular relative whose lessons seem harsh at the time but are driven by an overriding love and a desire to emphasize the necessity of self-improvement, who softens the blow of reality with a satirical wit, Saunders seems more interested in pointing out the flaws so they can be turned into a long-running joke that derives its comedy from the dichotomy between a thing's inherent potential for dark humor and the deadpan subtlety in observing it from such an angle. It's realizing the hopelessness of a situation and having a good laugh at its expense because, otherwise, the void wins and everything is rendered too meaningless to face just one more insignificant day.

Pastoralia, ultimately, is a collection of stories that proves if you're taking life too seriously, you're doing it all wrong. Tragedy is just comedy that tests your resolve to arrive at the punchline.
Profile Image for Julie G .
868 reviews2,677 followers
November 17, 2019
Almost two decades before George Saunders published the everybody's-talking-about-it book, Lincoln in the Bardo, he published Pastoralia.

Pastoralia is a collection of six short stories, and they are some of the weirdest, bleakest, and most well-written ones I've ever encountered.

As I worked through (struggled through) each one of them, I kept asking myself, Are these dystopian? I tend to think of "dystopian" as futuristic, or containing more futuristic elements, of government-imposed rations, restrictions, etc, and these stories are not like that. However, when I looked up the actual definition of the adjective "dystopian," this is what I found: "relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one."

Okay. So, yes, they're dystopian. And more.

The first one, "Pastoralia," the lead story of the collection, is the longest and the weirdest. I think his editor made a mistake placing this in the first position. I found the story beyond quirky and unrelatable, and I would have been done with the entire collection after this weird tale, had I not told my sister I would read this book.

The second, third and fourth stories were so dark and depressing, I wished I'd had a cup of Kool-Aid and a cyanide capsule to go along with the book. Reading about the people in these stories is like having a nightmare in which a former reality-tv host is the president of the most powerful country in the world, and waking up to discover it's true.

In the fifth and sixth stories, I finally got to sit back a little and think, "Damn, Mr. Saunders, when you're not depressing the hell out of me, you can be funny and a little bit romantic, too. It made me hopeful to read Lincoln in the Bardo.

But, of course, the last sentence of the collection left me sucker-punched in the gut. Who is this guy?

I'm hesitant to recommend this, unless you're a reader who likes to smack your shoulders up against the edge, or if good writing supersedes all else for you.

Four stars for excellent writing, originality and memorable, though disturbing perspectives on humanity. . . that I hope, despite our current despair, are not true.
Profile Image for Cláudia Azevedo.
260 reviews111 followers
August 2, 2020
5 estrelas porque não há 6! O livro é maravilhoso, o autor é maravilhoso! É assertivamente desconcertante e deliciosamente mordaz. Por favor, leiam! Ninguém deverá sair daqui incólume.
(Até o prefácio, da autoria do tradutor, é um mimo)
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
March 11, 2022
At a glance I see that some Goodreads readers do not like these celebrated stories as much as some of his more recent work, such as in The Tenth of December, which I loved. And I know awards and prestigious publication sites are no guarantee of quality, but hey, every one of these stories was published in The New Yorker and four of the six were awarded the highest honor in short story writing, O. Henry Awards, from 1997-2001. And sure, regardless of what others think of them, since that is one point of Goodreads, “people’s choice,” this person thinks they are great, but I also think the awards are an important accomplishment and sign of recognition. So there.

True, there is the potential to offend here and there in these stories. A couple people mention Vonnegut in their reviews and this seems fair; as strange and whimsical as Kurt Vonnegut, but a little cruder and darker in his sardonic critiques of American life. Maybe I'll even call it dystopian, but for every detail here, we can find insane details from real life to match them in the past five years. But Saunders is no less humane than Vonnegut, ultimately. He believes in laughter, and love, and that we were meant in this life to "fart around," as Vonnegut puts it.

We have six stories, “Pastoralia,” “Winky,” “Sea Oak,” “The Barber’s Unhappiness,” "The Falls,” and “The End of FIRPO in the World,” and I like them all. You have your male stripper working to support his ungrateful family, who spend their day watching reality TV shows such as How My Child Died Violently and The Worst That Could Happen, a show of computer-generated tragedies. Is this funny? It feels like the worst of current American culture, black comedy. Wincingly true.

A man attends a New Age seminar, where he is told to repeat the mantra "Now Is the Time for Me to Win!" and to remove his mentally ill sister from his home in order to achieve his goals.

Here’s an excerpt from another story, just to get the flavor:

“And in terms of mass firings, relax, none are forthcoming, truly, and furthermore, if they were, what you’d want to ask yourself is: Am I Thinking Positive/Saying Positive? Am I giving it all I’ve got? Am I doing even the slightest thing wrong? But not to worry. Those of you who have no need to be worried should not in the least be worried. As for those who should be worried, it’s a little late to start worrying now, you should have started months ago, when it could’ve done you some good, because at this point, what’s decided is decided, or would have been decided, if those false rumors we are denying, the rumors about the firings which would be starting this week if they were slated to begin, were true, which we have just told you, they aren’t.”

What is this? Saunders worked for many years in places like this; he has a Dilbert-like despair at corporate American capitalism. What does he want from life? More kindness, more sanity, as he says in his famous graduation address. So yeah, he’s Vonnegut for a new generation, drawing as Vonnegut does from midwest cadences and culture, though Saunders is definitely south side white bread Chicago.

I love his stuff. I'm sure it is a little too dark and crude--okay, the sad middle-aged barber still living with his mother, judging women that he thinks might not be good enough for him, when he's clearly no catch at all, he may be really off-putting--for some people, though.

Here’s one you can read, “Sea Oak”:

Profile Image for Teresa.
1,492 reviews
December 21, 2017
Na vida raramente há cabrito no "Tabuleiro Grande" e quase sempre papas de aveia no "Tabuleiro Pequeno". E mesmo assim... "na vida real há pessoas a chegar ao pé de nós e a cagar nas nossas papas de aveia a toda a hora."
Entre as Lengalengas da Auto-Ajuda, os Comprimidos para a Tristeza, as Lamúrias, e outras panaceias, o melhor é optar por RIR... lendo, por exemplo, George Saunders...
Profile Image for Heidi Mckye.
28 reviews5 followers
March 16, 2008
Any person who does not deeply love George Saunders is not allowed to be my friend. Even a little bit.
Profile Image for Fuchsia  Groan.
162 reviews197 followers
February 21, 2019
En Lincoln en el Bardo, que no me pareció una obra tan redonda como estos cuentos, se puede apreciar que George Saunders tiene talento para el relato corto, las pequeñas historias de los personajes fueron para mí lo más atractivo de la novela.

Con Pastoralia he disfrutado de cada página, de cada diálogo, de cada sonrisa amarga, de cada patada en el estómago que me ha llevado a la carcajada, de cada situación surrealista, de cada uno de sus personajes fracasados, atrapados y humillados, irritantes, reales y que a pesar de todo (o quizás debido a todo esto) me han llegado a producir ternura.

La realidad, nuestra realidad, se nos presenta aquí a través de situaciones delirantes, en el marco de una ciencia ficción distópica que el autor utiliza como recurso para mostrarnos nuestra propia vida de una manera impactante. Todo un acierto: situaciones absurdas y trágicas para retratar una realidad igual de absurda y trágica. No es difícil reconocer la sociedad en la que vivimos, incluso reconocernos a veces a nosotros mismos en esos personajes conformistas, tanto en sus relaciones personales como laborales (No es que me queje. Al menos trabajo).

En cuanto a los peces gordos de los que me cuentas, ¡que los zurzan! Pero haz lo que te pidan. En tu interior, piensa lo que quieras, pero haz lo que te pidan, para caerles bien. Y de esta forma tendrás éxito.
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
479 reviews583 followers
December 9, 2016
''His childhood dreams had been so bright, he had hoped for so much, it couldn't be true that he was a nobody.''

These stories, wacky as they may be, don't paint a very flattering portrait of modern life. A father takes a job as a grunting caveman at a run-down theme park in order to pay his son's exorbitant medical bills. A male stripper earns a meagre wage to support his ungrateful family, who spend their day watching reality TV like How My Child Died Violently and The Worst That Could Happen, a show of computer-generated tragedies. A desperate coward attends a New Age seminar, where is told to repeat the mantra "Now Is the Time for Me to Win!" and to remove his mentally ill sister from his home in order to achieve his goals.

The American Dream hasn't really happened for these characters. They're all a bunch of sad-sacks and nobodies who fantasise about the life they might have had. Any flicker of hope exists only inside their own heads and they're either delusional or too afraid to do anything about it. Saunders has a knack of pointing out the absurdities of modern existence. He sets up these surreal scenarios which initially sound unlikely, but the more you think about them, the more you realise they are not that far removed from life today. Though I personally preferred his Tenth of December collection, Pastoralia is a book of twisted, grimly funny satire from a visionary writer.
Profile Image for Joshua Nomen-Mutatio.
333 reviews874 followers
September 1, 2016
Like other folks I know and respect on Goodreads, I loved the opening, titular story but found the rest of the book to be middling. Like, disappointingly, forgettably, middling. I know the stories were kinda weird and stuff but for the life of me I can barely even remember what they were about or even distinguish them from each other. I don't think I've ever felt so uneven about a short story collection. It's so strange that it makes me curious enough to give them a reread at some point, despite the less than flattering description I've just given. I feel like I must have read them incorrectly somehow, since the opening story was so engaging and fun, which is where the four three stars come from.

I love books and films that utilize facades and museum-like tableaux and the story "Pastoralia" does this with great effect. This quality plus the cover image of my copy of this book has established itself so firmly in my mind that when I see things like fake trees indoors or big landscape/nature murals (think of the paintings placed around City Hall on the TV show Parks and Recreation) that I think of them as being "Saunders-like" in the instant-association segment of my brain. I haven't yet totally over-analyzed what my attraction to certain uses of facades and replicas is all about yet (though there's been a more extended musing on this elsewhere) but I guess it might just have something to do with fond childhood memories of visiting museums and being enthralled by the displays of animals and humans, made to be lifelike but frozen into place behind glass. I still experience a powerful mix of sentimentality with a healthy dose of Ineffability when I revisit the Milwaukee Public Museum, a place I've wandered around many times over the years, each time worrying that I'll drain the magic of the childhood memories on this visit, but each time managing to still feel wrapped in an almost mystical euphoria and nostalgia.

Saunders tale is surreal and dark and playful and some of its main devices called this feeling up from the inner depths.

This is still the only Saunders I've read. I assumed his work would be so up my alley that I ordered three of his short story collections last year, had my weirdly uneven experience with this one and haven't exactly felt compelled to make the others a priority yet. I still have a sense that I'll like more of his work, but this experience was just such a strange disappointment in a way I can't really explain at all. At least I have a case to solve now, so I'll be back to Saundersville to snoop around for clues and answers later.
Profile Image for Ana Cristina Lee.
641 reviews232 followers
September 2, 2021
Creo que lo primero que me viene a la cabeza al pensar en estos relatos de George Saunders – de la misma manera que en su obra Lincoln en el Bardo – es la palabra ‘originalidad’. Son originales sus planteamientos, sus personajes – mayormente marginales – y también la forma de narrar – aunque esto último pueda suponer a veces un reto lector.

Me han gustado especialmente Pastoralia y El final de Firpo en el mundo.
Profile Image for João Carlos.
646 reviews271 followers
March 21, 2017

”Pastoralia” reúne seis contos de George Saunders (n. 1958): Pastoralia, Winky, Carvalho do Mar, O Fim de Firpo Neste Mundo, A Infelicidade do Barbeiro e As Cataratas; todos publicados originalmente na revista norte-americana New Yorker .
Os seis contos de George Saunders são histórias de homens e mulheres que têm comportamentos estranhos, exibindo uma excentricidade e uma singularidade incomum, por vezes, bizarra e esquisita, para os padrões de conduta “normais” e que acabam por agir e reagir mostrando os medos e os receios que os apoquentam, as vergonhas que os fragilizam e as necessidades decorrentes de um dia-a-dia quase sempre frenético e neurótico. Todos eles, cada um à sua maneira, tentam ser felizes, mas acabam por tornar-se, quase sempre invariavelmente perdedores, ficando na expectativa de poderem ser castigados pelos “crimes” e pelas imperfeições dos seus desempenhos.
A escrita de George Saunders é extremamente criativa e original; as histórias são irónicas, sombrias e melancólicas e reflectem as contradições implacáveis entre o amor, a família e o trabalho, numa América dominada pelo pessimismo e pela distopia.

Destaco dois contos : Pastoralia, um narrador do sexo masculino não identificado e uma mulher, Janet, estão preocupados porque podem perder o emprego num parque temático pré-histórico decrépito; uma dupla que não tem permissão para falar em inglês e que tem que agir como os homens e as mulheres das cavernas…;
”Uma coisa é mais do que certa, ficar a matutar nos problemas não os resolve. Embora, por outro lado, pensar de forma positiva sobre os problemas também não os resolva. Mas pelo menos somos positivos, e isso dá-nos, ou pelo menos devia dar-nos, alguma força, estão a ver? E é bom sentir força. A força é uma coisa necessária nestas alturas.” (Pág. 50);

e Carvalho do Mar, O narrador é um stripper masculino no Joysticks.
Vive na urbanização Carvalho do Mar - mas não há carvalhos nem há mar, só uma centena de apartamentos sociais.
A tia Bernie é uma paz de alma. Não gosta de confusão.
A tia Bernie morre... e ressuscita... regressa ao apartamento, amarga e profana...
”Se calhar há mortos zangados em toda a parte, escondidos dentro de casas, tapados com cobertores, a dar ordens aos seus parentes assustados e envergonhados. (…)
Se ela agiu mal ao regressar, por favor perdoe-a ela nunca teve nada de jeito na vida, e além do mais estava a tentar ajudar-nos. (…) Mas por favor não a deixe regressar outra vez.”
(P. 147)"
Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,097 followers
January 10, 2019
The stories in Pastoralia were pretty great. Saunders definitely has a schtick here – sad-sack characters worn down by the unfairness of life in (mostly) comedic situations – but as there’s just six stories, it doesn’t get a chance to wear thin. The satire is goofy yet melancholic and it never feels mean. Such a short book though, reading it all in one go means it’s over too soon.
Profile Image for Sinem A..
448 reviews248 followers
January 5, 2018
çok iyi karamizah örneği öykülerden oluşan kitapta yeralan öyküler günümüz insanının trajikomik halini inanılmaz bir dille anlatıyor. kurgu, yaratılan atmosfer mekan ve kişiler harika bir zeka ürünü. belki biraz amerikan ama modern insanın hezimetine güsel eğlenceli bir ağıt.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,207 reviews222 followers
October 21, 2018
Bernie Kowalski is one of life's helpers. Quiet and shy, she's been given the wrong end of every deal, but she just keeps on finding the bright side and helping those she can. So when she dies, alone and terrified in a shitty flat, you could forgive her nephew for finding that unfair.

If I had my way I'd move everybody up to Canada. It's nice there. Very polite. We went for a weekend last fall and got a flat tire and these two farmers with bright-red faces insisted on fixing it, then springing for dinner, then starting a college fund for the babies. They sent us the stock certificates a week later, along with a photo of all of us eating cobbler at a diner.

George Saunders, as usual, takes us for a walk on the weirder side. Poverty and the disdain it's met with, along with the strange pride that disdain often provokes, are portrayed unflinchingly, and this might be a surreal dystopia but it's ringing with authenticity. I also highly recommend the pilot that Amazon created before passing on making a full show - everyone deserves to see Glenn Close deliver that monologue.

This story appears in Pastoralia, but is also available to read online here: http://www.barcelonareview.com/20/e_g...
Profile Image for Mykle.
Author 13 books272 followers
May 28, 2008
I finished this last night when I couldn't sleep ... I adore George Saunders in small doses, he is so very funny and has such an ear for the pathos of our sad American industrial poverty.

But there's a kind of story that he writes over and over again ... not exactly the same story but the same kind of story. A story about a hilariously awful job, a hilariously difficult life and a sad, pathetic person stuck within. I don't even object to the repetition, but when I read it all back to back the relentless pessimism and bitterness overtook the comedy and I found myself just plain depressed.

Is that so bad? Is that my fault or his? Should I give more stars to a happier book? Are they Prozac stars? I don't know, stars are stupid. Short stories are not at their best compressed into collections. Any of these stories is great on its own. (Though I preferred the shorter version of "Pastoralia" printed in the New Yorker to the extended-play version here.) So maybe you should get this book and schedule it out, maybe read one story a month over the next summer. But not all at once.
Profile Image for Konserve Ruhlar.
255 reviews143 followers
December 19, 2017

Okurken fena şekilde etkilendiğim bir kitabı öylece bırakıp yeni bir kitapla yelken açamıyorum okuma denizinde. Pastoralya da bu kitaplardan biri. Hem George Saunders öykücülüğüne giriş yaptığım kitap hem de absürt hikayeleri bu dozda okuduğum ilk kitap. Etgar Keret’i çok severim. Türkçede bu tarz hikayelerde iyi olarak gördüğüm İsahag Uygar Eskiciyan ‘ın kitaplarıyla tanıştığımdan beri Türk Edebiyatı’nda hikaye anlatımında çeşitlilik ve yeniliğin uzun zamandır beklediğim bir okuma deneyimi olduğunu anladım. Ömür İklim Demir’in hikayelerini de belki bu kategoriye koyabilirim. Gerçekler üzerine kurulu edebiyatın yeri ayrı. Ama biraz fantastik ögeler öyküleri dinamik yapmakla kalmıyor okuyucuyu da farklı dünyalarda gezintiye çıkararak, pasif olarak gerçekleştirilen okuma eylemini eğlenceli ve maceralı kılıyor. Her okur bu tarzı sevmiyor.

Profile Image for Hazal Çamur.
172 reviews200 followers
October 1, 2016
Adeta bir Kaybedenler Kulübü'nün absürt uyarlaması bu kitap. Saunders'tan Türkçe olarak okuduğum 4. kitap ve Saunders kitapları arasında favorilerime girmiş bulunuyor.

Bu kitapta kara mizah var, taşlama var, sizi tam güldürürken tokat atan bir yapı da var.

Hayatın gidişatına, düzene ve tüketim toplumuna bir türlü ayak uyduramamış "ezikler"in hikayelerinden derlenen bir kitap bu. Günümüz toplumsal düzeninin damgaladığı insanların trajikomik maceraları. Geniş bir aralıkta yer alan bu insanların her biri düzene ayak uyduramamış kaybedenlerdenbaşkası değil.

İkna Ulusu ve Phil'in Dehşet Verici Kısa Saltanatı ile birlikte favori Saunders kitaplarım arasına girdi. Yazarın ödül aldığı Aralığın Onu ise maalesef bu 4 kitap arasında en sonuncu olmaya devam ediyor.

Dilerim daha nice George Saunders kitabı okuruz.
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
399 reviews2,176 followers
June 23, 2022
Short story collections are always a little hit or miss, but "Sea Oaks" and "The Falls" are absolute standouts in this collection, and either of them on their own are worth the price of admission. Absolutely killer stories.

"Pastoralia" is also solid. The rest are all pretty good 3 star stories.
Profile Image for britt_brooke.
1,261 reviews95 followers
May 22, 2017
This collection was totally up my alley. Saunders' writing kind of reminds me of Vonnegut, who I later realized was one of his inspirations. I was not a fan of Lincoln in the Bardo, but I'm so happy I gave his short stories a chance. Can't wait to read more of his work!
Profile Image for Celeste   Corrêa.
278 reviews142 followers
July 31, 2020
Com excepção do conto que dá título à colectânea, ou outros nada (ou quase nada ) me disseram.
Excessivo na escrita e nas situações relatadas. Em minha defesa, digo que não sou dotada de sentido de humor.
Profile Image for A READER.
27 reviews37 followers
November 21, 2022
WOOOOOOOOOW! This book is freakin' Amazing. George Saunders is my new fav author. He is so good at writing dialogues. Holy shooketh! I think he will be a perfect screenwriter for arthouse films such as the Coen brothers' films.

This book doesn't even feel like a book. The stories are written in an authentic and original way. It feels like people are telling their stories directly to us. And ofc, the stories do unfold in a very very unexpected and unique way. I've read 'Lincoln in the Bardo' before. That book is very fantastical yet somehow very relatable. This book has some of that but, mostly it is about the everyday lives of regular people. IMAO the best part of the book is the dark humor he has injected into the stories. They are so funny at times that, I almost felt guilty for laughing at people's misery. But, that's real life. George Saunders has portrayed real life here in the most interesting and realistic way possible and it is mesmerizing to witness. 5/5
Profile Image for John Hatley.
1,164 reviews189 followers
September 21, 2019
This is a really fun collection of 5 short stories and one novella by an author I didn’t know before. It is also a collection I’ll enjoy reading again soon. It contains humourous, sad, surreal and futuristic tales. George Saunders is certainly an author to remember. I “discovered” the title here on Goodreads!
Profile Image for Jon.
179 reviews33 followers
May 21, 2016
This is the second collection of Saunder’s short stories I’ve read and Pastorlia is cut from the same cloth as the first. Think of the cartoon strip, The Far Side, in story form and you’ll get the idea of what his writing is like. His stories are weird and funny, with a pronounced absurdist edge to them. Saunders often populates his stories with a menagerie of misfits who are life’s punching bags. While their struggles are played for laughs, there is, at times, an underlying pathos to his character’s determined efforts to remain optimistic in the face of a cosmos equally determined to give them metaphorical wedgies. In the end, however, life usually grinds them down and even death doesn’t bring relief:

“We bury her at St. Leo’s, on the hill up near BastCo. Her part of the graveyard’s pretty plain. No angels, no little rock houses, no flowers, just a bunch of flat stones like parking bumpers and here and there a Styrofoam cup. Father Brian says a prayer and then one of us is supposed to talk. But what’s there to say? She never had a life. Never married, no kids, work, work, work.

Sometimes she comes to me in dreams. She never looks good. Sometimes she’s wearing a dirty smock. Once she had on handcuffs. Once she was naked and dirty and this mean cat was clawing it’s way up her front. But every time it’s the same thing.

“Some people get everything and I got nothing,” she says. “Why? Why did that happen?”

Every time I say I don’t know.

And I don’t”

Sauders is a savage satirist and takes careful aim at American society. One of his frequent motifs is the seedy amusement park as a microcosm for America. The title story is yet another foray into that theme. Pastorlia is a historical amusement park where living people play act in dioramas of the past. As a threatened restructuring looms, the story becomes a Dilbert-like skewering of corporate culture:

“And in terms of mass firings, relax, none are forthcoming, truly, and furthermore, if they were, what you’d want to ask yourself is: Am I Thinking Positive/Saying Positive? Am I giving it all I’ve got? Am I doing even the slightest thing wrong? But not to worry. Those of you who have no need to be worried should not in the least be worried. As for those who should be worried, it’s a little late to start worrying now, you should have started months ago, when it could’ve done you some good, because at this point, what’s decided is decided, or would have been decided, if those false rumors we are denying, the rumors about the firings which would be starting this week if they were slated to begin, were true, which we have just told you, they aren’t”

I liked the book, but it’s not for everyone. The stories are often freakish and bizarre, filled with satire sharp enough to draw blood and a bleak view of American society. Saunders does have a unique voice and an original style, but I have to admit I did find his 1st book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, to be somewhat repetitive, largely due to four of the stories being set in amusement parks. There’s a little more variation in setting and themes in this collection and even a couple of stories that could be considered to have “happy endings” or what passes for a happy ending in Saunder’s world view.
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