Liberation Day by George Saunders
Saunders once again shows why he enjoys a stellar reputation. These powerful and moving stories, limned with a stunning variety of styles are magnetic, appalling and inspirational by turns. The collection can be recommended to anyone who loves great writing.
George Saunders is an acknowledged master of his craft. He demonstrates that mastery elegantly in this collection of dark, insightful and powerful short stories. Using unusual and creative writing methods he plumbs the minds of those who are trapped: by others, by themselves, by fate. In each case, the individual is subjugated to a system, a tyrant, a family member or their own limitations and psychoses. Release is the goal, not always achieved.
The splendid and entertaining variety of styles the author employs provides a great measure of the joy of reading this collection. Using what would be considered by purists as incomplete sentences, first person, third person, whatever tool seems to be most useful for the task he creates images that burn into the imagination of the reader with strength and permanence. The very fact that the form varies from story to story keeps the narrative fresh and interesting.
There are appalling situations (one reminds me of Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go”) and predicaments that elicit deep empathy and sympathy for the put-upon characters who must endure them. Part of the genius is that each one has a distinct reaction to events and a unique plan for escaping their difficulties. The panoply of conundrums is evidence of the fertility of the author’s mind and a tribute to his abilities as a writer. This is a truly impressive work. I urge readers to overcome any disinclinations they may have about reading short stories, if they have any, and take up this spectacular literary tour de force.