I really enjoyed this series of stories. Prior to this I’d read two of his stories for my podcast and enjoyed them both (The Semplica Girl Diaries and Escape from Spiderhead) but I wasn’t sure what to expect from a collection. In the end, I found his writing interesting, emotionally evocative and demanding of the reader.
These aren’t stories you can read quickly with half attention as you do dishes. It is often very easy to get confused or lost as he plays with form and grammar interesting ways. It was especially easy to get confused when reading Tenth of December. The story tread the line between losing the reader and invoking a parallel experience in the reader of the confusion felt by the characters. Puppy, in it’s surface seemed very simple but on further thought, waves of meaning kept popping up. It’s hard for me to give this the highest rating because not every story opens the heavens and changes my life, but it is darn close.
I highly recommend reading this collection with the caveat being, take at least a couple hours break between each story, read each one in a sitting and re-read some of the shorter stories. I think there is a lot to be missed be reading quickly and without consideration. My favorites in the book are Escape from Spiderhead, Victory Lap and Home. My least favorites would have to be Al Roosten and My Chivalric Fiasco. Also, be aware I think almost all of these stories are available online with most in the New Yorker. Lastly, the conversation between Saunders and Sedaris at the end is a worthy read but especially if you are a writer.