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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sublime short story writing
George Saunders is that rarest of things -- a writer of fractured, strange, speculative fiction, driven almost entirely by heart and compassion, with an exquisite prose style that leaves most 'literary' writers in the shade. A synopsis of any one of the stories in this volume would make them sound 'wacky' or self-consciously weird, but this is not at all the experience of...
Published on 15 Mar 2004

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written short stories
I didn't know when I bought this book that it was a collection of short stories, in fact I was under the impression that it was supposed to be funny. All the stories are all well written, but written with a dry quirky wit which doesn't generate many smiles or laughs. I did find myself taken along with the stories, they are engrossing, largely because Saunders creates...
Published on 9 Mar 2004 by D. Bowtell


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sublime short story writing, 15 Mar 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Civilwarland In Bad Decline (Paperback)
George Saunders is that rarest of things -- a writer of fractured, strange, speculative fiction, driven almost entirely by heart and compassion, with an exquisite prose style that leaves most 'literary' writers in the shade. A synopsis of any one of the stories in this volume would make them sound 'wacky' or self-consciously weird, but this is not at all the experience of reading them. they are heart-breaking stories of down-trodden lives, minimum wage drones in marginalised jobs (the guy who operates the wave-maker machine at a simulated indoors nature park for example), of the new and unusual cruelties that modern life uses to mash up your soul. They are also very, very funny.
For my money, Saunders is one of the current masters of the short story. His prose is flawlessly paced and beautifully wrought. File next to Kurt Vonnegut, if you're in need of some kind of comparison. Or Kafka. Or Chekhov. Or Alice Munro or Grace Paley or Maupassant or or or....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific but unsettling, 9 Jun 2008
This review is from: Civilwarland In Bad Decline (Paperback)
Every bit as good as Saunders' other collections. The recurrent themes and style of his writing sometimes make his stories feel as if they are all part of one gigantic novel about the American Dream gone sour. There's a real sense of humanity here, too -- like the best satirists, Saunders is angry beause he cares.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good delivery, crazy book, 3 April 2013
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This review is from: Civilwarland In Bad Decline (Paperback)
I got this for a book group, and it's crazy and upsetting and also sometimes very funny. The first few stories were great, and then it gets a bit repetitive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great time in the head of a giant, 22 Sep 2013
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M. Salter "cryptomnesiest" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Civilwarland In Bad Decline (Paperback)
I've only just recently launched my investigation into the world of Saunders - CBD was my first (felt right to start at the beginning) about a month ago. I was so excited and near-rapturous with the completion of this book that I immediately moved on to the next in the series: Pastoralia and now have just finished The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.

Thinking back on Civilwarland, I remember a lot of the stories with a real clarity, but more am just grateful for the lasting feeling of accomplishment that Saunders illicited for me in the reading. The tales are dark and gruesome in a more obvious way here, than in later stories. And there's a rawness - some transmission of the excitement or discovery that he perhaps felt writing these first stories (?) that comes right to the surface, bites on to your face, and doesn't let go.

I honestly stood leaning against a tree to finish the last 40 pages of the final story because I couldn't take another step without finishing the journey. I lied about where I'd been when my colleagues asked why I was late back to the office, and spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about the world I'd just left.

This feels like a book I'll want to re-read every year, and enjoy more for the return. I'm grateful that this book exists; it helped me dream myself away from all the cyclical cr*p my mind has been fixated on for so long. I can't say how exactly the effect worked, but it was probably magic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Small, Sad, Funny Boxes, 15 Jun 2013
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Keizu (Helsinki, Finland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Civilwarland In Bad Decline (Paperback)
The sort of tragi-comic appetizers that make you painfully aware of how sad and funny your own life is. Gobble them up.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written short stories, 9 Mar 2004
This review is from: Civilwarland In Bad Decline (Paperback)
I didn't know when I bought this book that it was a collection of short stories, in fact I was under the impression that it was supposed to be funny. All the stories are all well written, but written with a dry quirky wit which doesn't generate many smiles or laughs. I did find myself taken along with the stories, they are engrossing, largely because Saunders creates worlds and characters of such a strange genus riding between real and unreal that you wonder where it's all going (like an amusement park that uses it's employees to shot unwanted gangs of youths). The versimilitude of his writing rides a fine line and I think I found the chopping between the reality of each story irritating and not to my taste. I was also disappointed that there wasn't more to the book, which I finished easily without any effort made on my part. If I had a teenage son, or a bright kid I might recommend this to him.
Harsh, but I'm disappointed.
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Civilwarland In Bad Decline
Civilwarland In Bad Decline by George Saunders (Paperback - 6 Feb 1997)
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