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In Persuasion Nation

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  9,243 ratings  ·  854 reviews
The stories In Persuasion Nation are easily his best work yet. "The Red Bow," about a town consumed by pet-killing hysteria, won a 2004 National Magazine Award and "Bohemians," the story of two supposed Eastern European widows trying to fit in in suburban USA, is included in The Best American Short Stories 2005. His new book includes both unpublished work, and stories that ...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Riverhead Books (first published April 20th 2006)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  9,243 ratings  ·  854 reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Not my favorite Saunders, though to be clear, my rating is specifically on a Saunders scale rather than a "compared to all other short story books" type of thing. That may or not be fair (okay, it's not), but it can't really be helped after you've spent enough time with a particular author. Though I enjoyed a few of these quite a bit, the collection as a whole felt like more of a chore than any other collection of his that I've read. In fact, I usually find Saunders to be especially not impatien ...more
Ryan Chapman
Apr 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
George Saunders is like The Onion for the literati. He's hilarious, to be sure, but also capable of parsing the 9/11 reaction by the U.S. in a brilliant five-page allegory. ...more
Peter Boyle
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
George Saunders is known for his surrealism and In Persuasion Nation is him at his wackiest. He examines topics like consumerism and marketing, pushing them to their extremes. His stories often make me laugh at their ridiculousness but then I start to think that maybe our society is not so far removed from the crazy scenarios he dreams up.

I've always admired his wild imagination, but I must admit that some of these tales tested my patience. The title story is an extended riff on advertising that
Mattia Ravasi
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFxG_...
#14 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIWkw...
Featured in my Top 5 George Saunders Books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bc7g...

An amazingly colorful short story collection on the dangers and absurdities of modern consumer society. Some stories are heartwarming and uplifting - like, tearjerking uplifting; some are mercilessly cruel; some are borderline disturbing; none is long or strong enough to mar the fun
Leo Robertson
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just through my love of Saunders, I noticed that I read this book again by periodically reading these stories during work breaks.

"The Red Bow" is particularly chilling, and during a dull meeting recently I thought about it and I was like 'Ohhh do you think it's a metaphor for AIDS? The red bow! That the only apparent way to eliminate the disease- during that time when the disease was idiopathic and only gay people seemed to have it- was to eliminate gay people themselves? And didn't that happen
Dec 14, 2010 marked it as sampled-a-few
I'm sure this has been said before, but Madison Avenue suffered a grave loss when this guy decided to go into fiction.

I really enjoyed all the stories in the first, ad-themed section, but it's sort of been on a gentle downhill from there. Some of these -- like "The Red Ribbon," the only one I'd read before -- got too message-y for me. Still, I'm liking it. I've been embarrassed in public when it's been revealed that I'm the only one of my friends who has never read George Saunders. I guess this
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-good-shit
some books, i don't really know what to say, except that i know genius when i read it.

this book of short stories gives a person more to think about life than a rack full of self-help books. Saunders is telling us crucial things about contemporary life in some funny, bitter, outrageous, out-there ways that (at least to my limited skill) defy description.

i guess the most accurate thing i can say about his work is that each story is like a zen koan--just when you think you've got a grip on it, it m
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Last week I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I was supposed to have spent my summer tracking down supplementary readings for a unit on media manipulation, but as of two days before my due date I hadn't found one single thing. Honestly, I hadn't even bothered to try. In short, I was screwed. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue by suggesting In Persuasion Nation, a collection of short stories by George Saunders, and it proved perfect for my needs. (And thank God I can read a book in a day. W ...more
Ed Erwin
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
There should be a special place in Hades for whoever approved the tiny font in this book.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed most of these stories. Many of them could be published as Science Fiction. But since Saunders is a "MacArthur Genius" he can publish in more high-brow places like New Yorker. The combination of experimental style with cynicism about our consumer society gets me right where I live.
May 07, 2008 marked it as left-unfinished
Shelves: short-stories
He has cute ideas, but he drags them on to the point where they simply become annoying and boring. Reading him is like choosing one food to eat on a deserted island for the rest of your life. Good luck. Is he a cutting social satirist? I would look elsewhere.
pepe abola
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
hypothetically, george saunders is an author i should like. he is unabashedly progressive, very experimental, and witty. also, i loved pretty much everything in "pastoralia." two years ago when i was in graduate school, i held him in the highest esteem, seeing him as something of a descendant of one of my favorites, donald barthelme (yes i am a snobby snob snob snob).

anyhow. this book thoroughly disappointed me. the great stories in it, less than half, were great stories. the rest were all faile
Gaurav Andreas
‘The truth is, this stupid system causes suffering wherever you look.’

A small minority of readers won’t be able to stand reading these stories. Because they are the very same people who perpetuated/participated in the culture that Saunders’ so incisively critiques here. It’s only ‘the shallow’ that can’t stand to see their shallowness laid bare.

And everybody else could sigh deeply. They feel seen in a world that turns a blind eye to them. These are the stories of everyday people written by an a
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“What America is, to me, is a guy doesn’t want to buy, you let him not buy, you respect his not buying. A guy has a crazy notion different from your crazy notion, you pat him on the back and say, Hey pal, nice crazy notion, let’s go have a beer. America, to me, should be shouting all the time, a bunch of shouting voices, most of them wrong, some of them nuts, but please, not just one droning glamorous reasonable voice.” (From the story "My Flamboyant Grandson")

Brilliant and weird and funny and m
Anthony Panegyres
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic satirical work on consumerist identity and the human condition. A sci-fi gem that demands reading. Funny, witty, insightful.
Darryl Suite
Jul 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Loved this one, although there were a couple of stories I didn’t vibe with (near the back end). But with Saunders, rereads are most welcome, so perhaps they will emerge as new faves in the (hopefully) near future. I adore Saunders’ brand of surrealism because there is so much humanity (and empathy) under all of the weirdness and absurdity. The stories “Jon” and “CommComm” are masterful and truly moved me. Beautiful tales. Aah, this now completes my third Saunders and I’m itching for more.

My fave
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
(This) is a story about a young man (teenager?) inside a facility where he and other young people are implanted with microchips and are given the task to rate and review certain products in exchange for a lavish lifestyle. He gets a girl pregnant, the girl wanted to get out of the facility, and Jon is torn between following the love of his life to an uncertain world and remaining in the luxury of his comfort zone.

What immediately caught my attention was George Saunders’ prose. His was the kind o
Sarah Smith
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 ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
originally posted on The Short Story Station

“What America is, to me, is a guy doesn’t want to buy, you let him not buy, you respect his not buying. A guy has a crazy notion different from your crazy notion, you pat him on the back and say, Hey pal, nice crazy notion, let’s go have a beer. America, to me, should be shouting all the time, a bunch of shouting voices, most of them wrong, some of them nuts, but please, not just one droning glamorous reasonable voice.” – Leonard Petrillo, ‘My Flamboya
Josh Friedlander
After a long recess, I’m currently getting back into some fiction... George Saunders is all over lately with his first novel having just come out. Although I happily concede that there is no coherent argument for genre fiction having any lesser stature vs. the 'literary' kind, I just don't like the bulk of it, and seeing the term 'science fiction' bandied about in reviews of Mr Saunders' work had at first kept me away. But his style is more like science-augmented reality, or plain old surrealism ...more
Justin Evans
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I like that every reviewer says this collection is uneven, and then everyone goes on to list different stories as the good ones. It is uneven. My two cents: the more 'experimental' the story in this collection is, the better it is. The whole "looks cynical and ironic... looks a little less cynical... turns out to have a real heart beneath the irony... oh my god I'm in tears" thing only works if you don't jump straight to the tears as we do in 'Christmas', and only works if you don't skip the rea ...more
In Persuasion Nation's stories' main concern here, at least with most of the stories, seems to be the increasingly blurred line between advertising and regular life. One story's about a reality show that contains its own commercials; another is actually about the characters in commercials (specifically the schlemiels, the ones who always lose out). And most of it comes off as really absurd, especially when you add in other Saunders mainstays like ghosts and corpses. But mostly what I've been thi ...more
Favorite stories from this collection:
- "my flamboyant grandson"
- "93990"
- "bard carrigan, american"

Saunders makes you commiserate with even the worst boss/bad guy because even they are caught up in something grander, a bigger system to which we are all subjects in one form or another. This one comes up just a tad short behind Tenth of December and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (with the latter being my favorite so far).
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
The first 4 stories in this book are delightfully, satirically funny! They are very clever commentary on our current American lifestyle.
The very last story (commcomm) has some absolutely hilarious, laugh-out-loud lines poking fun at ultra-religious people and govt. bureaucrat-speak.

The rest of the book (pages 73 through 195) is mostly a waste of time and just plain stupid. I read through them hoping to find more good ones, but they were terrible, especially "93990"!
Perry Van Der Meülen
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic shit!!!!
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I had the pleasure of getting to talk with legendary author George Saunders for CCLaP's podcast last week, a rare treat given how in demand he is on this latest tour even among the major media; but that meant I had to do some serious cramming in the few weeks leading up to our talk, in that (I guiltily con
David Bjelland
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it

And in this way, more were freed.
That is why I came back. I was wrong in life, limited, shrank everything down to my size, and yet, in the end, there was something light-craving within me, which sent me back, and saved me.

In Persuasion Nation occupies a funny spot in the Saunders I've read so far. At times, it feels like the most tossed-off - maybe even juvenile? - collection of his, with stories that have that meandering, flippantly ultra-violent quality of notebook-margin cartoon doodles (see
Jul 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As I finish this, my 3rd book of Saunders' short stories, I'm starting to get very mad at him for being so remarkably consistent. I imagined reading through his works, in order, like the obsessive-compulsive completist I am, would be an exercise in watching a writer grow and blossom into the genius mind everyone considers him to be today.

But no. Saunders had the gall to start great and just keep being great. I would honestly like one of his stories to suck ass. It would make me feel significantl
Jessica Sullivan
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't love all of the stories in this collection but I still felt lucky to be reading them, if that makes any sense. Saunders has that effect. From self-aware sitcom and commercial characters to recently deceased ghosts, these bitingly hilarious stories are full of absurd, surreal, bizarre people and situations. This is satire with a lot of heart—genre-bending fiction that can best be described as speculative, with a distinct dystopian bent. Themes of totalitarianism, capitalism, consumerism ...more
Not as enjoyable as Tenth of December but a solid collection of mordant stories nonetheless. More than any other contemporary author I've read, Saunders plays with syntax to dislocate the reader from the text. Words and punctuation that should naturally follow other words and punctuation simply do not follow. The effect carries a chilling punch.

Favorite stories here include I CAN SPEAK TM; My Flamboyant Grandson; Jon; 93990; Brad Carrigan, American.
michal k-c
May 22, 2022 rated it liked it
doesn’t do for me what Saunders’ best work does, but not without some exceptional high points (the title story and Flamboyant Grandson being favourites). if you look closely there’s a tiny bit of humanity left in the picnoleptic landscape of algorithmic american culture
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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

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