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READ The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil º PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ð In a profoundly strange country called Inner Horner large enough for only one resident at a time citizens waiting to enter the country fall under the rule of the power hungry and tyrannical Phil setting off a chain of injustice and mass hystIn a profoundly strange country called Inner Horner large enough for only one resident at a time citizens waiting to enter the country fall. ida know i love george saunders but this one was just too lightweight for me i wish i could just stand behind anything george saunders did but i must remain objective and trustworthy because of the importance of goodreadscom reviews

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Ry this is an incendiary political satire of unprecedented imagination spiky humor and cautionary appreciation for the hysteric in everyone. Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcentercom I am the original author of this essay as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegallyI had the pleasure of getting to talk with legendary author George Saunders for CCLaP's podcast last week a rare treat given how in demand he is on this latest tour even among the major media; but that meant I had to do some serious cramming in the few weeks leading up to our talk in that I guiltily confess I only became aware of his existence a month ago because of a passionate recommendation from my friend and Chicago science fiction author Mark R Brand with Saunders' new book tour and interview opportunity being merely a fortuitous coincidence And that's because the vast majority of Saunders' output has been short stories while regulars know that my own reading habits veer almost 100 percent to full novels which means he's simply and unfortunately been off my radar this whole time; but of course I'm happy to make room in my life for exuisite short fiction writers once I learn about them see for example my revelation after reading John Cheever for the first time a few years ago which means that I tore through all seven books now of his career in just a few weeks recently so I thought I'd get one large essay posted here about all of them at once instead of doing a separate small review for each bookAnd indeed as I mentioned during the podcast as well like Cheever I think Saunders' work is going to be at its most powerful once his career is over and all the stories collected into one giant volume that a person reads all at once instead of debating the merits of one individual collection over another And in fact this is something else I said in the podcast that I find it fun to think of Saunders' stories as essentially interchangeable tales in one big comic book style shared universe albeit the most f cked up shared universe you'll ever spend time in a possibly post apocalyptic America although whether through slow erosion or one big doomsday event is hard to determine where the only businesses that still thrive are outlandish theme parks designed for the amusement of the now natural betters of our new Mad Max society and staffed by the permanent class of have nots which now includes a large population of genetically modified freaks a place where ghosts are real and magic exists and the new normal is extreme cruelty at all times for all other humans left in the wreckage of a crumbled United States And so if you look at the four story collections that Saunders has now put out 1996's CivilWarLand in Bad Decline 2000's Pastoralia 2006's In Persuasion Nation and this year's Tenth of December you'll see that the vast majority of all these pieces fit at least somewhat into the general paradigm just described although with others that are much realistic in tone but still with the same unbelievable cruelty and darkness many of them set among racially tense situations in eroding post industrial citiesYeah sounds like a big barrel of laughs right And in fact this was the biggest surprise for me as well when first reading them that Saunders is not just on the stranger side of the bizarro subgenre but is one of the most wrist slashingly depressing authors you will ever find yet this Guggenheim and MacArthur grant winner is regularly on the bestseller lists has appeared on David Letterman and The Daily Show gets published on a steady basis in such hugely mainstream magazines as The New Yorker and G and is adored by literally millions of fans out there many of whom would never open the cover of a book from Eraserhead Press to save their life And that's because Saunders never talks about these things specifically to be depressing but rather as a way of highlighting how important simple humanity is to our lives the simple act of being humane and optimistic about the world which he does not by writing about the humane acts themselves but what a world without them would look like And that's a clever and admirable thing to do because it means he sneaks in sideways to the points he wants to make not beating us over the head but forcing us to really stop and think about what he's truly trying to say to examine why we get so upset when this fundamental humanity is missing from the stories we're reading Ultimately Saunders believes in celebrating life in trying to be as helpful and open minded to strangers as you can in being as positive about the world at large as you can stand; but like the Existentialists of Mid Century Modernism he examines this subject by looking at worst case scenarios and by showing us what exactly we miss out of in life when this positivity and love is goneFor those who are new to CCLaP bizarro is a hard to define term but one we reference here a lot; also sometimes known as gonzo fiction sometimes as The New Weird a lot of it comes from either the wackier or prurient edges of such existing genres as science fiction horror and erotica while some of it is like Hunter S Thompson or William S Burroughs a conceptual cloud of strangeness that has a huge cult following in the world of basement presses and genre conventions as well as such literary social networks as Goodreadscom If you want to think of famous examples think of people like Kathy Acker Mark Leyner Will Self Chuck Palahniuk Blake Butler China Mievilleand uh George SaundersNow of course in all honesty there are also a few clunkers scattered here and there in these collections as well which is simply to be expected in a career that now spans twenty years; and when it comes to the small number of other books he's put out besides story collections I have to confess that I found those to be a much iffier proposition For example there's the 2000 children's book The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip cute enough but as inessential to an adult as any children's book is; then there's his one collection of nonfiction essays 2007's The Braindead Megaphone an uneven compilation of random pieces which includes some real gems one of the best being that G piece mentioned where Saunders is sent George Plimpton style to Dubai and instead of the usual decrying of the ultra rich he is surprisingly charmed by all the vacationing middle class families but that has an eual amount of throwaway pieces done for highly specific commissions; and then there's the only stand alone fiction book of his career so far the 2005 novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil which I have to confess is the only thing of Saunders' career that I actively disliked written in the middle of the Bush atrocities it's obviously an attempt to do an Animal Farm style satire about those years but is labored in its execution too on the nose and in general has too much of a uirky for the sake of being uirky vibe the exact thing that can most uickly kill a piece of bizarro fiction But then again we perhaps shouldn't blame Saunders for this; as I've talked about many times here in the past it seems that no indignant artist was able to write satirically about Bush in the middle of the Bush Years without producing an overly obvious ranting screed whether that's Saunders or George Clooney or Michael Moore or Robert Redford No wonder no good books about Nazis came out until after World War Two; as we all learned in the early 2000s it's nearly impossible to actually live under a fascist regime and also be subtle and clever in your critiue of itBut those are all small uibbles of course; Saunders' bread and butter is in his short fiction and I'm convinced that he will eventually be known as one of the best short fiction authors in history joining a surprisingly small list that includes such luminaries as Cheever William Faulkner Eudora Welty GK Chesterton and Plus as a fan of edgy and strange work I'm thrilled that a guy like Saunders is out there serving as a gateway of sorts between mainstream society and an entire rabbithole of basement press bizarro titles that's just waiting for newly inspired fans to tumble down If you're going to pick up your first Saunders book soon go ahead and pick up the newest Tenth of December because it's just as good as all the others and particularly easy to find right now; but I also encourage you to dig deeper into this remarkable author's career and to see just how far he'll pull you into the murky depths of ambiguous morality before coming bobbing back to the surface It's been a true treat to become a fan of his work this year and I urge you to become one as wellOut of 10 Tenth of December 96

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The Brief and Frightening Reign of PhilUnder the rule of the power hungry and tyrannical Phil setting off a chain of injustice and mass hysteriaAn Animal Farm for the 21st centu. Overly obvious political parable featuring six inhabitants of an increasingly impoverished and minuscule nation My favorite part was the Kellerites and their Enjoyment statistics My least favorite aspect was meanie Phil's falling out brain