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Archive: Other Books > Pastoralia/Saunders - 3 stars

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Anita Pomerantz | 7062 comments 6 stories, one 5 star, two 4 stars, two 3 stars, and one 2 star = 3.5. I'm rounding to a three despite my LOVE for this author. One of the issues is the stories appeared in the order of best to worst (in my opinion), so that left you feeling a little bereft at the end instead of elated. Had the order been reversed, I probably would have gone with 4 stars.

Saunders' stories make fun of the mundane in very creative ways, and I really enjoy his weird characters. But you can tell this was his first book. Tenth of December was five stars all the way for me, so if you want to try Saunders short stories, I'd start there instead.

My favorite of the six stories was Pastoralia. A man and a woman portray cave people for some type of exhibit/amusement park. The on the job rules are very strict, and the living conditions are difficult, but both need the job because of challenging family situations. When the amusement park undergoes hard financial times, the pressure on job performance increases which leads to all sorts of consternation. I feel like this story is typical Saunders. Take a realistic situation - - people in a high pressure job which they need and which is vaguely exploitative - - and re-write it in a way that is both funny and a bit horrifying with fascinating characters that you actually do get to know in a very short period of time. Saunders sense of humor definitely aligns with mine, so I find myself chuckling, but it is subtle so perhaps it might not appeal to all.

Sushicat | 805 comments I had very much the same reaction to this as you. I loved the first story and happily settled in to read more of the good stuff, but the other stories were not at the same level.

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