In which we discuss,
along with, among other things...
- That one collection written by George Saunders,10th of December
No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised, those Americans who struggle to pay the bills, make the rent, hold onto a job they might detest — folks who find their dreams slipping from their grasp as they frantically tread water, trying to keep from drowning.
- George Saunders on Discovering His Voice, and not wanting to be ‘interesting’
- Some Brief and Frightening Tips from George Saunders
- “Mr. Vonnegut in Sumatra” by George Saunders from The Braindead Megaphone
I was thinking back in Sumatra, in 1982, this is a classic? Aliens did not belong in classics. Aliens belonged in movies. Aliens were great; I loved aliens in movies, but I did not want them in my Literature. What I wanted in my Literature was a somber, wounded, masterly presence, regarding the world with a jaundiced, totally humorless eye...
A forest was a forest, he seemed to be saying, let’s not get all flaky about it. He did not seem to believe, as I had read Tolstoy did, that his purpose as a writer was to use words to replicate his experience, to make you feel and think and see what he had felt. This book was not a recounting of Vonnegut’s actual war experience, but a usage of it. What intrigued me—also annoyed me—was trying to figure out the purpose of this usage. If he wasn’t trying to make me know what he knew and feel what he’d felt, then what was the book for?
In fact, Slaughterhouse Five seemed to be saying, our most profound experiences may require this artistic uncoupling from the actual. The black box is meant to change us. If the change will be greater via the use of invented, absurd material, so be it. We are meant to exit the book altered.
- Edmund Burke said a thing once like, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
- But, on Wikiquote, there’s a fascinating disputed section concerning this quote, e.g.
This purported quote bears a resemblance to the narrated theme of Sergei Bondarchuk's Soviet film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's book "War and Peace", in which the narrator declares "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing", although since the original is in Russian various translations to English are possible. This purported quote also bears resemblance to a quote widely attributed to Plato, that said "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." It also bears resemblance to what Albert Einstein wrote as part of his tribute to Pablo Casals: "The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it."
Anglophiles, and especially lovers of the high art of English loneliness, are probably already familiar with ''Talking Heads,'' which Mr. Bennett originally wrote for BBC television in the late 1980's. Several of the installments, including Maggie Smith's deliciously dry portrait of a wine-soaked vicar's wife in ''Bed Among the Lentils,'' instantly became genteel cult classics.
- That thing Zadie Smith said once was actually: “Time is how you spend your love.”
- Which, while similar, is actually quite different from, “Love is how you spend your attention.”
- Maggie Smith, dowager countess and professor of transmography.
- The stiff upper lip, and the possible mythicalness thereof.
- That one episode where we discussed Helen Oyeyemi’s story “presence,” from her collection What is Not Yours
- John Green, tired of adults telling teenagers they’re not smart.
- That one John Green commencement speech. in which he talks about the lenght of grass.
- That one episode, long ago, where we first mentioned how the magic in your story should always work, not for, but against your characters, NOW I’M ONLY FALLING APART.