George Saunders, a great writer I foist on you continuously, is the subject of a New York Times Magazine piece of almost excessive excellence:
“I saw the peculiar way America creeps up on you if you don’t have anything,” he told me. “It’s never rude. It’s just, Yes, you do have to work 14 hours. And yes, you do have to ride the bus home. You’re now the father of two and you will work in that cubicle or you will be dishonored. Suddenly the universe was laden with moral import, and I could intensely feel the limits of my own power. We didn’t have the money, and I could see that in order for me to get this much money, I would have to work for this many more years. It was all laid out in front of me, and suddenly absurdism wasn’t an intellectual abstraction, it was actually realism. You could see the way that wealth was begetting wealth, wealth was begetting comfort — and that the cumulative effect of an absence of wealth was the erosion of grace.”
In addition to all of it being quite amazing and full of goodness, it must be, for Saunders, a little bit like showing up Tom-and-Huck fashion to your own funeral and hearing everyone you love and admire explaining why you are better than they.