21st Century Literature discussion

Tenth of December
This topic is about Tenth of December
27 views
2014 Book Discussions > Tenth of December - The SG Diaries (May 2014)

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Terry Pearce | 763 comments Discuss 'The Semplica Girl Diaries' here.

How do you feel the story relates to our own time and situation? What do you think about how the structure and style helped with this?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2270 comments Here's another depressed guy who doesn't like his job, is struggling to make ends meet, and whose family life is suffering from strained economic circumstances. As he turns 40, he starts a journal to leave a history of life for his grandkids. I don't think we are ever told his name, so I'm going to refer to him as Dad.

Dad thinks he's saved when he wins a substantial prize on a scratch off lottery ticket. The daughter - Lillie - is the oldest of three kids and she is too embarrased to have a birthday party with friends, after having attended a friend's great party where there were Semplica statutes. Lillie has also asked for expensive, impractical gifts. Dad and wife Pam decide to use the money to splurge on their daughter's birthday rather than to pay bills. They buy her the impractical, expensive gifts and have the backyard redone and decorated for 30 days with four Semplica girls. The party is a hit and the whole family, except for the 6 year old daughter Eva, is happy.

Eva is worried about the Semplica girls, who are live girls from third world countries who have signed contracts to do this. Eva sents them free one night. The results are disasterous for Dad and Pam, as they face a huge bill for the SGs and have no way to pay. And then Dad finds out that Eva committed a felony by letting them go. He doesn't want her caught but doesn't want to burn his diary where all the details are written.

So in summary, we have parents who want to keep up with the Jones and who have not told their kids the economic realty of the family. Dad he does not get why Eva upset. While Dad doesn't want to "give up" Eva, he can't help blaming her for the stunt and blaming the SCs. Dad thinks SGs should have been happy to have job and not run off.

So I think this story relates to the economic stagnation the world seems to be in. Dad and Pam seem to represent those who spent to the limits of their credit, saving nothing for a rainy day and giving their kids whatever their friends were getting. Perhaps Dad and Pam represent that group of Americans who find themselves stuck as a result of an economy that has stagnated, but who are also clueless about what is happening in the world around them and clueless about how to change their lifestyle.

I did not particularly like the structure of this story, especially the use of the SGs, which felt like a sci-fi gimmick. I do think using Dad's journal as a way to tell the story was creative but not sure how effective it was.


Terry Pearce | 763 comments I wonder about one aspect of the SGs representing a more concrete face of sweatshop labour and all the ills that our consumerist culture brings on the less developed world. It's almost like he's saying 'would it make any difference if the people you were indirectly exploiting were right in front of you?'


message 4: by Whitney (last edited May 20, 2014 01:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Whitney | 2044 comments Mod
Terry wrote: "I wonder about one aspect of the SGs representing a more concrete face of sweatshop labour and all the ills that our consumerist culture brings on the less developed world. It's almost like he's sa..."

I got that as well. Is it any less exploitative if you can't see the people making your Nikes or are unaware of the labor conditions (or names) of the people working for your landscaper?

I did think the story may have tried to take on too many things:
- The absurdity of some of the trends people buy into as well as the way they distract from things of true value
- Exploitation of desperate people and the rationalizations we use to justify it, i.e. "they need the work and should be grateful".
- The way the laws protect the system of exploitation and not the exploited.
- The mixed messages we send to kids about values and ethics.

I think short stories are in danger of getting a little sloppy when they try and take on more than one central theme. Maybe that happened a bit with this one? And while for the most part I like the way Saunders tends to incorporate fantastic elements into his stories, I agree that the SGs weren't entirely successful. Perhaps they were just a tad too over-the-top.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2270 comments Whitney wrote: "Terry wrote: "I wonder about one aspect of the SGs representing a more concrete face of sweatshop labour and all the ills that our consumerist culture brings on the less developed world. It's almos..."

Whitney, you are on to something I think. There are too many things in this one story, making it hard to focus on any one of them -- for both reader and author. The SGs brought human trafficing to my mind, but I think sweat shop may be closer. But I don't think any of the myriad of potential issues was particularly well fleshed out in this story.


back to top