Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20th: George Saunders
A Month of Short Stories and Their Authors

now (re)reading: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Thought: Is there anyone who doesn't know that Little Women is by Louisa May Alcott? That title and author seem to me to be more undeniably attached to each other than about any other title/author I can think of.

Today's Story: "Adams"
Author: George Saunders
My Rating: B+ 



So this is fiction that challenges you. Many people hate that, when they are given (let's say, in a college class) fiction that challenges them, or when people (who, let's say, are accused of being literary snobs) enthuse about challenging  fiction. But really, that's what this story does. Because after finishing it (yeah, MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD, so you should probably go read the story right here first if you care, OK, ready? here come the SPOILERS!!!!! Now.) I'm like, okay, so, why the hell was he in the kitchen in the underwear? And I'm as annoyed as my unreliable narrator, still, even though the unreliable narrator has proven himself, well, unreliable. And crazy. And although I'm thinking about how regardless of what happened, he probably shouldn't have broken in, or refused to use lawful methods to solve the problem, or taken all the knives and then all the chemicals and stuff, leaving the Adams family defenseless, I nonetheless want to know why the hell Adams was in the kitchen in the underwear in the first place. And then, only then after a few seconds of being annoyed and maybe wanting to give the story a C for not telling us that, do I realize that maybe the narrator, who is unreliable and delusional, has only perceived this slight that set him off on his psycho rampage, and that Adams really did nothing wrong. And I realize that this story is symbolic and is about, like, Gaza and Israel and Hamas, really. It's about humans and fighting.

But, "I am what I am." What does that mean if he wasn't in fact actually in the kitchen in his underwear? Did anything that happened in this story happen? That's annoying to have to wonder. So, B+.

This is my first George Saunders. Yes, yes, everyone has been jabbering about Tenth of December and I have dutifully added it to my to-read list, but haven't got around to it yet. And yes, yes, he has been writing short stories and winning prizes for, like, years. Great. Well, I haven't been reading those stories. Until today.

I will read more, and look forward to it much more than I'm looking forward to my next Munro! Still feeling yesterday's ugh on that one.

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