Civilwarland in Bad Decline (1996) and Pastoralia (1999), as well as last year's n"/>

In Persuasion Nation

George Saunders, Author . Riverhead $23.95 (228p) ISBN 978-1-59448-922-8

Following his superb story collections Civilwarland in Bad Decline (1996) and Pastoralia (1999), as well as last year's novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil , Saunders reaffirms his sharp, surreal vision of contemporary, media-saturated life, but keeps most of the elements within his familiar bandwidth. In the sweetly acerbic "My Flamboyant Grandson," a family trip through Times Square is overwhelmed by pop-up advertisements. In "Jon," orphans get sold to a market research firm and become famous as "Tastemakers & Trendsetters" (complete with trading cards). "CommComm" concerns an air force PR flunky living with the restless souls of his parents while covering for a spiraling crisis at work. The more conventionally grounded stories are the most compelling: one lingers over a bad Christmas among Chicago working stiffs, another follows a pair of old Russian-Jewish women haunted by memories of persecution. Others collapse under the weight of too much wit (the title story especially), and a few are little more than exercises in patience ("93990," "My Amendment"). But Saunders's vital theme—the persistence of humanity in a vacuous, nefarious marketing culture of its own creation—comes through with subtlety and fresh turns. (May)

Reviewed on: 02/13/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4295-0446-1
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 240 pages - 978-1-4295-0447-8
Paperback - 228 pages - 978-1-59448-242-7
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-101-21745-0
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