Sorry Please Thank You

Charles Yu, Author
Charles Yu. Pantheon, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-307-90717-2
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 07/24/2012
Paperback - 222 pages - 978-0-307-94846-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-17609-6
Open Ebook - 148 pages - 978-0-307-90718-9
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In his new story collection, Yu (How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe) draws from both sci-fi and literature to conjure a world of emotionally stunted people, unable or unwilling to cope with reality and the love or loss that it entails. With somewhat mixed results, the book charts eclectic territory, from a zombie in a megamart to a new pharmaceutical drug that generates a sense of purpose, and explores retreats from reality and emotion. In “Standard Loneliness Package,” Yu imagines a technology that transfers guilt, heartbreak, and other bad feelings onto the employees of an “emotional engineering firm” based in India. In “Adult Contemporary,” which recalls George Saunders, a man trying to buy a new life realizes that he’s a character in someone else’s story. Less successful stories delve into the workings of fiction itself; Yu wrestles with ethics as he imagines himself as a character struggling against his author in “Human for Beginners.” At their best, the tales amusingly send up American consumer culture, but Yu’s fondness for self-reference and literary games leads to some dead ends. While Yu’s imaginative allegories are mostly too obvious to be genuinely thought provoking, they’re nonetheless an impressive sendup of contemporary life. Agent: Gary Heidt, Signature Literary Agency. (July)
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