Friday, January 4, 2013


George Saunders: Superhero

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.

27 Comments / Post A Comment

RK Fire

Jesus. Right now I'm sticking with a job I intensely dislike because we have to pay the bills and my husband has been erratically employed over a year. This quote was like a punch in the stomach.

P.S. The last phrase is so fantastically written. So fantastic.


I want to say that after your last piece on Saunders, I revisited a lot of my favorites of his stories, plus read some new ones, and it was GREAT all around. Like a really great kick in the gut, but still, great! And this is a fantastic article as well. I didn't even know he had a new collection coming out!

erika kougar
erika kougar

Oooh, thank you Nicole! I've been re-reading all of his books in anticipation of attending a reading for his new book next month. Excited to read this.

Nicole Cliffe

@erika kougar He gives the best reading you've ever seen. I will remember my first time until I am old and wizened and don't care about readings anymore.

miss olsen

@Nicole Cliffe on the strength of that recommendation I thought I'd just check in the unlikely event he'd be reading in my city anytime soon, and lo, he'll be here in two weeks and now I am going! Hurray for something literary to look forward to.


Thank you for this article, Nicole! Had always been a fan of Saunders, and it was great to get insight into who he is as a person. Some of what he said was goosebumps-level beautiful and profound.


oh wow well that paragraph cut like a knife



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aaaaaand i will now proceed to read everything he's ever written...how have i missed him for so long? what is this grad school rock i live under?


Ich scheine nicht mehr zählen, wie viele Male habe ich gelesen und gehört von Promi-Ehen andernfalls fast links und rechts. Nicht, dass ich mich interessiere (und ich persönlich nicht), scheint es seltsam, dass wir oft sehen, Film-und TV-Stars wie makellose Menschen, leben das märchenhafte Leben der Reichtum und Glamour. Ich denke, wir alle haben zu stoppen kleben unsere Köpfe in den Wolken und der Realität ins Auge.


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