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CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a…

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella (original 1996; edition 2016)

by George Saunders (Author)

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2,034768,033 (4.04)61
A novella and short stories on a future America, a land of corporate hypocrisy, violence and pollution. Trendy attractions include pickled babies and cows with plexiglass sides, so you can see the milk made, people buy other people's more interesting memories for downloading into their heads.
Title:CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella
Authors:George Saunders (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2016), Edition: Reprint, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

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CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders (1996)


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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
I read the new reissued edition with his author's note at the end. Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a free copy. Admitting that the young GS would've ridiculed the idea of an author's note, he explains his struggles with writing, working full time and being a father and husband during the 7 years he took originally writing these stories, which made the collection even more meaningful. He struggled to find his voice outside of "Hemingway Mtn" and learned his comical constructions of futuristic, violent amusement parks was how he could tell stories from today's America. Hmm. He's one of my favorites. ( )
  RachelGMB | Dec 27, 2023 |
Well, this one is hard to rate. I really liked the 6 short stories, and would maybe consider giving them a 5, but I thought the novella was just ok. It really faded, and doesn't get more than 3 stars from me. The stories though, pretty great. ( )
  nogomu | Oct 19, 2023 |
How much are your memories worth on the open market and can they generate enough money to save someone you care about? What form will discrimination take in our dystopian future? How should the unscrupulous owner of a rundown amusement park handle a vandalism problem? Can you absolve the guilt of an accidental death that you might have caused? Is a murderous cop who is devoted to caring for his severely disabled daughter a good person or a bad person? Can killing cows ever be considered a socially responsible act? How much abuse and ridicule can one man take about his weight problem before he snaps altogether?

Those are just some of the questions posed in CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, celebrated author George Saunders’ first published collection of short stories. While each of the seven tales in the volume display the wordplay, humor, and insights that Saunders has become known for, they also delve into serious topics, including the contrast between kindness and cruelty, dealing with shame and guilt, the need for personal connections, and the dehumanizing effect of modern corporate culture. In fact, this last theme was prominent in many of the stories, as the myriad business organizations depicted were portrayed as either dysfunctional or corrupt. Clearly, the author has some issues with the current state of the capitalist system!

This is a solid collection that gives the reader great insight into how Saunders approached his craft at the outset of his literary career. Six of the stories are relatively short (i.e., about 10-20 pages), while the final work is considerably longer and is billed as a novella. I found all of the tales to be thought-provoking and occasionally hilarious for their satirical natures, but I did have my favorites: “The 400-Pound CEO”, “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz”, and “Bounty” (the novella) stood out for their unflinching, yet compassionate, looks at how people deal with various adversities. By now, Saunders is regarded as a modern master of the short fiction format and this is where he got his start. ( )
  browner56 | Aug 19, 2023 |
Like I just read the same story 6 times, and didn't enjoy any iteration. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
A collection of stories and a novella, Bounty, that are roughly linked in that they seem to take place in the same depressing near-future dystopia. They make for good if maudlin reading, as very little that would pass for happiness makes an appearance. These are tales of sad, broken, weak people suffering at the hands of the vile and moronic. It's as if someone took the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and thought - what would that look like in the twenty-first century? ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
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George Saundersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Päkkilä, MarkkuKääNtäJä.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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A novella and short stories on a future America, a land of corporate hypocrisy, violence and pollution. Trendy attractions include pickled babies and cows with plexiglass sides, so you can see the milk made, people buy other people's more interesting memories for downloading into their heads.

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