George Saunders’s six short stories and one novella take the reader on a bizarre odyssey into the dark reaches of the author’s febrile imagination, a world turned upside down and populated by weirdos and inadequates trying to get back on their feet. The mind’s eye conjures up a landscape and characters more like a Far Side cartoon than anything in America’s near future. As with Gary Larson’s drawings, George Saunders’s humour is laced with a wonderfully offbeat brand of satire that is superb when it hits the target. Sometimes, though, you are left wondering why you just don’t get it.
‘CivilWarLand in Bad Decline’ is the title of the first and most arresting story, which is set in a theme park that painstakingly recreates the time of the American Civil War. Rather fortuitously, the site has a resident family of ghosts from the period. The narrator is a Verisimilitude Inspector