Monday, July 22, 2013

PastoraliaPastoralia by George Saunders
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading a dense (albeit, a sometimes funny) book about the fundamentals of science, this George Saunders collection was like literary candy.

Like most of Saunders' work, the stories were genuinely very funny in a sort of bizarre way.  The first work in the collection was a novella in which the central characters are reenactors in a natural history museum.  The characters are meant to act like some sort of primitive version of mankind and are never allowed to break character.  Despite this very bizarre conceit, Saunders writes a touching tale in which a woman has a breakdown as her life falls apart around her, and how her coworker is left to deal with this.  It's a great examination of the mundanity of work life in the least mundane setting possible.

The thing about Saunders is that he can do that: filter the common and the everyday from the bizarre and unusual.  There is a universality to his work, all of it wrapped in a sugary package of prose.

That said, I liked this work less than other things I've read by him, namely The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. I was really hoping form something that blew my mind life the aforementioned book, but this one just left me flat towards the end.  While I wasn't quiet bored by this book, by the end I found I was struggling to get through the last few stories.

But, not a bad book by any means.  Even the stories in which I started to lose interest were readable and entertaining.

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