The Beautiful World
George Saunders’ Tenth of December, his fourth short story collection, was published to much fanfare in 2013. The centerpiece of the ballyhoo was a New York Times Magazine profile pronouncing it “the best book you’ll read all year,” and the public responded by making Tenth of December the rare literary story collection to land on the best-seller list. For anyone who’d been following Saunders’ work since 1992, when his groundbreaking story “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline”—set in a theme park degenerating into dystopia under callous management—appeared in the Kenyon Review, the acclaim, however tardy, has been welcome. And yet there were detectable mutterings underneath it all. Some reviewers, while praising Tenth of December, noted that Saunders’ satirical glosses on life under corporate capitalism are a bit obvious, or that for all the originality of his voice, his work hasn’t evolved much over the years.