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Tenth of December

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  59,465 ratings  ·  7,099 reviews
Includes an extended conversation with David Sedaris

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.
In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 3rd 2013)
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Deborah Klein Clearly - class disparity, great humanity in "average" people, and the stories themselves all appear to be set in a recent US future where the worst o…moreClearly - class disparity, great humanity in "average" people, and the stories themselves all appear to be set in a recent US future where the worst of what we have today has gotten worse. For example illegal immigration issues - the ubiquitous Mexican gardener in California has evolved into a lawn ornament.(less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  59,465 ratings  ·  7,099 reviews

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Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2013

The first and last stories in this book are, I think, masterpieces, and affected me more than I would have thought possible-- they're just short stories, after all. In the first one, a dreamy teenage girl is in her house, having fantasies about her own kindness and attractiveness. After only reading her narrative for a minute or two, I felt completely involved, which is uncommon in my experience of short stories. Next I was in the head of a neighbor boy, who is just coming home, the many, many
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, literature
Reading short story collections in one sitting is ill-advised, particularly when they can be as emotionally coals-rakey as Saunders can be. However, there's a certain cloudy state my head can fall in from time to time where he is one of the only voices out there that doesn't make me feel condescended, and can make me laugh despite myself. You know how it is when your brain refuses to be pleased, where you for no good reason just pout like a grade-schooler who doesn't like her birthday present, a ...more
Paul Bryant
It's aggravating when all the critics turn out to be right and us readers just feel like we're trooping along behind them baa-ing and bleating obediently George Saunders go-o-o-o-d, Dan Brown ba-a-a-a-d. The cover of this book is festooned like a Chrismas tree with blurby simperings from Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Jon McGregor and o, yes, Thomas Pynchon. I guess after that lot they couldn't be bothered to call up Philip Roth, Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela. I bet those three ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
the level of genius ain't sufficient to disguise the fact that most of these stories lack heart*. consider DFW and maureen mchugh, both of whom paint with roughly the same palette -- y'know, the pomo'ey, quirky, capitalism & consumerism, blahblahstuff-white-people-like-etcetcetc** -- but whose stories feel not only topical and cultural-critiquey but also weighty and alive. saunders seems in love with an idea and kind of schematically lays it out as if a mere essay in the short, quirky fiction fo ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know those disconcerting dreams where nothing you can do will seem right; lose-lose propositions are the only ones on offer? Well George Saunders is the large deluxe pizza you ate before bed. He's the likely culprit.

I started with a comment about Saunders himself because his stories, and collections in general, are hard to review. Plot summaries don’t really work because there are too many of them. Unifying themes aren’t always easy to come by either. Even if there are common threads, they’
One of the stories in this collection features experimental drugs that can enhance someone’s verbal ability to describe an event. I feel like I could use a few doses of that stuff to help me review this book because I’m struggling to articulate what I found so good about it.

At a basic level, there are ten short stories that reminded me somewhat of Kurt Vonnegut because Saunders uses sci-fi concepts and humor in several of them to depict various aspects of human nature, but this has some nastier
Natalie Tyler
Saunders is not for me; he is cut from a cloth that I cannot comfortably wear. I would categorize him with Pynchon, Eggers, Donald Barthelme, de Lillo, David Foster Wallace, Thom Jones, and Ward Just. I just cannot get along with these authors, just like I cannot get along with certain types of music. I can search for a sentence or two that is remarkable but I just cannot go with their flow.

I like so many authors and there are so many books that I will never read because I will have died first,
MJ Nicholls
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
My second foray into Saunders after a lukewarm response to Pastoralia was an unprecedented success. His writing has sharpened its teeth and mellowed its heart and toned down its comedic chutzpah and the results are staggering pieces like ‘Escape From Spiderhead,’ a short moral parable that builds to a slow, devastating climax, ‘The Semplica Girl Diaries,’ a long moral parable that unfurls creepier revelations and a deeper-rooted sadness with each page, and ‘Home,’ a medium-sized moral parable th ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I like reading short stories but I hate writing about them. A short story is so fleeting and ephemeral -- it's like trying to describe a cloud.

This collection of 10 short stories by George Saunders is especially difficult and elusive. His writing is rich and visual, but there is always danger lurking for each character. I had to take a pause break after finishing each story because I felt so unsettled.

My favorite stories were "Victory Lap," which involved two high school students and a traumatic
Matthew Quann
I knew that I liked George Saunders' after loving last year's Lincoln in the Bardo , but this short story collection made me want to run out and grab everything else he's done. There's a palpable thrill to picking up one of Saunders' stories, which show an immense range over the course of ten individual tales of varying length. I always looked forward to reading this collection because I never knew which Saunders I'd be encountering. While one of the more recent collections I read had very go ...more
David Schaafsma
“It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within it”--Saunders

I know, I know, I should have been reading George Saunders for decades, but I just didn’t. Maybe a couple stories here and there. Oh, and his commencement address on kindness. Then I read Lincoln in the Bardo and loved it. That combination of experimental fiction and unexpected, down to earth warmth. So I finally read Tenth of December, his 2013 collection of s
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Tenth of December” by George Saunders was published in 2013 to quite a bit of fanfare. After reading the book of stories now I understand why all the noise and fuss. In fact the book was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review. This is a sound reason to avoid a book.

I would normally shy away from this kind of book, which I did, until someone convinced me to read "The Tenth of December" which consists of the following stories:

003 -“Victor
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three stars???

You gave the Adam Levin short story collection five stars, and this three stars?


Someone could probably successfully argue me out of this opinion, but there was a feeling that too many of the stories in this collection were not substantial enough. Maybe it is that it has been so long since his last collection was released that I felt there should be something more here. I did like all of the stories, none of them were groan worthy but none of them really stood out either. Mayb
It is quite something to come across a writer of versatility and skill who doesn’t figure (now that they have your ear—you bought the book, didn’t you?) they will add more than they need just because they can. This is a slim volume of stories that all of us should have--to read, to cherish, and to share. Saunders has a distinct voice that reveals us as we are now. We may say that his stories do not have the language of the old masters, but they have the language we use, with more kindness, gener ...more
Elyse  Walters
Generally ---this is not my type of book. I wanted to read it (expand my view --see if maybe I've 'matured' in taste) --
Overall I had a few laughs -- most of the stories were dark --(I found hard to find funny) --and I don't think I've matured at all.

My mind drifted - (I had to 'work' to bring it back)--
Its seems there was less character storytelling & character development than storytelling of ideas.

I still give the book a 3 (not less) --for the pure artistry I observed from the author.

Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saunders is a master at taking the ordinary, the usual, the hum-drum and tossing in a bit of bizarro ( some cases, it's a whole lot of bizarro!) to mess with the proceedings. Not every one of these stories hit the jackpot with me, but the ones that did were right on the money.

And, yes, I did wait until today, December 10th to read the title story.

Sometimes I'm so cute I make myself sick.
when did george saunders become so well known? i don't mean that to sound snarky - i am honestly astonished (and delighted) by the lavish attention tenth of december has been getting. i count george saunders high on my list of favorite living authors, but for the longest time i labored under the apparently woefully misguided assumption that he was unjustly unknown and unfeted (despite his regular appearances in the new yorker et al.). i was all set to write a magnum opus of a goodreads review in ...more
Glenn Sumi
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Urgent, humane and deeply felt short stories by an absolute master of the form.

Saunders’s voice is distinct, dark and confident, and he’s got a remarkable ability to set up narratives – some featuring dystopic settings – efficiently and with a minimum of fuss.

The theme of chivalry and rescue runs through many of these stories, from the bravura opening story (“Victory Lap”) about an abduction attempt – told in three distinct voices – to the final two, one a tragicomic tale about a man trying to d
May 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When this book was released in January of this year I heard that one reviewer proclaimed it the "best book of the year." I guess there's some wisdom in some circumstances to not have very high expectations, like when anticipating the accomplishments of the latest election winnners, but certainly the contemporary publishing industry in this country and world is still turning out enough remarkable writing, that we can at least be hopeful throughout the year.

Unfortunately this is not one of those
Sam Quixote
George Saunders’ short stories are an amazing blend of Donald Barthelme’s abstract weirdness and David Sedaris’ humour, and his collections - in particular Civilwarland in Bad Decline and Pastoralia - tend to be really good. Though it seemed that for every story I liked in Tenth of December there was a story I didn’t, so this one wasn’t as great as I’d hoped.

The book starts promisingly with the excellent Victory Lap about a Rod/Todd Flanders-type kid who saves his neighbour/high-school crush fr
Cheryl Kennedy
"A feat of inventiveness... This eclectic collection delights with its at times absurd, surreal, and darkly humorous look at very serious subjects." Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

These short stories may strike some readers as familiar tales, but Saunder's craft, honesty and focus on humanity separates them from other writers telling similar stories. At the core, according to the author, is a focus on the least understood condition of humans, our ending - death. And with that in mind,
I seem to be approaching George Saunders work in reverse chronological order. Of course I had heard of Saunders before his Booker winner debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo , I was aware he was a short story writer of some repute. However, for some reason I thought this book was going to be full of beautifully written yet ultimately dull "slice of life" affairs.
How wrong I was ! This collection is a quirky oddball masterpiece. All of Saunders ribald and linguistic inventiveness that I admired in
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020, modern-lit
My only previous experience of reading Saunders was his Booker winner Lincoln in the Bardo, which I admired but found it hard to love. I have heard so many good things about his stories that I felt I should read some, but once again the weight of expectation made it hard for me to appreciate these at face value.

My main problem is that much of this is a little too showy for my taste. Saunders is undoubtedly able to capture a wide range of voices, and there is plenty of surreal black humour and sa
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
I'm late to the George Saunders fan club, but Tenth of December was amazing. Belongs on the same shelf as Pynchon, McCarthy and DFW in the pantheon of amazing American writers. He has a voice that captures the depth and vibrations of America's modern tragicomedy. He dances on the same ground as David Foster Wallace. The sophistication of his prose is amazing. He writes on a tightrope of madness and morality. There were a couple stories that were objectively only four stars, but emotionally, I wa ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: Catie
Catie told me that some stories reminded her of Black Mirror, and they do. What she didn't mention is that Saunders is quite funny. Hapless, kind-hearted underachievers seem to be his specialty.

A rare short story collection that held my attention all the way through.
I wanted to like this one more than I did. I had never heard of the author until a friend recommended him; I then found his name popping up a lot as I read this collection. Saunders is a current literary darling, specializing in short stories, and has been generally very well-received.

Tenth of December is a collection of ten short stories. Length varies dramatically, from a couple of pages to much longer. Saunders has been praised for his style; initially I took it to be a conceit of one of his
Jr Bacdayan
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are small cracks in life which go unnoticed or avoided by the general lot of humanity. Little crevices that are perfect mixtures of bliss and sorrow, wunderkinds that jolt one into a sense of appreciation, bewilderment, wonder at this thing called life. George Saunders’ collection of stories delves into these wells to produce emotions from the very depths of being. His stories show the good in places where we fail to find it, stories of compassion to people who we condemn, stories of the u ...more
Me: Okay but I don' stories. Like at all.

Book: Dude that is totally fine but just read like the first one.

Me: fine

Book: I STAB you in the face with my awesome!!

Me: ..!



Book: How about this last story?!

Me: shh I am having feelings
Mar 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 and 1/2 stars

Short story collections are generally a mixed grab bag, but this one seems particularly so, especially for someone like me who is not drawn to what I take to be Saunders' usual style (this is my first reading of him). The stories range from the heartfelt to the cold and smug: I loved the former and found the latter off-putting.

A quick look at my updates will reveal that I liked more of the stories than I disliked. There were a couple I loved, but of a couple I felt the emperor was
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
It was interesting to read Tenth of December and Pastoralia in close succession. The two collections were published 13 years apart and presumably the individual stories represent an even larger span of time. Both collections are recognisably ‘Saunders’ but they have a slightly different tone overall.

Tenth of December seems more ‘grown up’ – the stories are more refined, more varied in terms of topics and characters, their structure more carefully crafted. Saunders is completely in control here,
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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

Articles featuring this book

The noted American stylist finds the humor in some of modern life's most horrifying corners in his latest collection of short stories, Tenth of Dec...
49 likes · 14 comments
“It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within it.” 283 likes
“Why was she dancing? No reason. Just alive, I guess.” 52 likes
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