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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Imagine a world where theme park employees live and work in a prefabricated, prehistoric cave and communicate with their families via fax; where an upbeat self-help guru encourages followers to find out "who's been crapping in your oatmeal"; where an improbable romance blossoms at driving school. Welcome to the twisted, profound, and hilarious world of George Saunders. In his new book of short stories, Pastoralia, Saunders returns to the wickedly imaginative world that distinguished his first collection, Civilwarland in Bad Decline.
With a voice unlike any other in modern literature, Saunders gives readers a glimpse into the lives of the down-but-not-out, luckless losers who persevere and are oddly hopeful. In the selection below, excerpted from the title story, two employees at a historical theme park share a simulated cave and keep tabs on each other for the management. When Janet starts to slip — cursing at park visitors and drinking in the cave — her coworker must decide what to report to their Big Brother-like boss.
The stories in Pastoralia are nervy, outrageous, sometimes darkly disturbing, but ultimately uplifting — exactly what readers have come to expect from George Saunders.