2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arcadia Ego
One of the most compassionate, quirky, and incandescent books I have read, Pastoralia is on my short list of all-time favorites. 'Sea Oak' alone is worth the price of admission. My compliments to George Saunders for having written it.
Published on April 29 2003 by Open Container
3.0 out of 5 stars ...a dark and inventive new voice...
The short story format has always been the poor cousin of the novel but Saunders makes a good case for the genre with this strong collection.
His dark take on life is a welcome one and Pastoralia contains some very good stories each of which come at you from slightly left of centre.
What he manages to do very well is to create a novel-sized reality within the shorter...
Published on June 21 2001 by Scott Pack
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arcadia Ego,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)One of the most compassionate, quirky, and incandescent books I have read, Pastoralia is on my short list of all-time favorites. 'Sea Oak' alone is worth the price of admission. My compliments to George Saunders for having written it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Shipping,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)This book was sent to me extremely quickly! It was here within a matter of days. The only thing I would have liked to have known was that there was a small mark on the book since I was giving it as a gift. It wasn't enough to make me want to send it back or anything as drastic as that (like I said, it was small), but when things are gifts you want them to be perfect. Regardless, it was here very quickly and I was extremely pleased with that.
I've heard that this book is absolutely amazing! He read it in a matter of days. It was similar to "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood in the sense that it was a little futuristic and "out-there." I believe there are three books in this collection and I know that the person I got this book for has already gone out and gotten one of the other ones.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre, Grotesque, Absurd, and all too real!!!,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)Comparisons with other writer's do not do justice to Mr. Saunders! His zany, laugh out loud, heart rending tales, are simply in a class of their own! And his stream of conscious narrations are about perfect! Take the bike riding boy in one tale. This youngster daydreams in a sci-fi world wishing for weird things to happen to his neighbors. How many other boys, and girls, have done the same, but who else can write about it like Mr. Saunders! Or the narrator of "The Falls", obsessed with his grown up neighbors, and wondering how to greet his odd "friend". Then Mr. Saunders reverses course, and into the mind of the frustrated artist antagonist, all the while sending a sly warning about two girls boating towrds the falls! There's the daydreaming barber with no toes, who lives with his mother, wondering about making the first move towards a beautiful, but awkwardly overbuilt, fellow student at a course for driver's caught speeding, not to mention the all too real instructor. Who would not want to be a student in this unique author's creative writing class?! The title tale also has its strange moments, as does the entire collection of a real original in contemporary writing!!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Distilled,
By A Customer
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)If you've ever felt valueless as an employee/citizen....you're not alone. Saunders exposes how earnestly we pursue our livings in a Capitalist system so devoid of humanism that it becomes HILARIOUS and sick at the same time. Who holds the moral high ground in a work system so incredibly shallow, meaningless, and empty...those who resist?...or those who comply? This book makes you wonder why we're all so enthusiastic about the work ethic when we are valued only as consumers. I tell my friends to quit worrying about who stole their cheese...and start reading Pastoralia.
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for happiness in all the usual, wrong places,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)The first story in this book, the title story, grabbed me immediately. I laughed aloud, delighted at the inventiveness of Saunders' depiction of the corporate culture, as seen through the eyes of a poor working stiff in the pre-historic-land exhibit of a theme park. And really, be it a cubicle or a cave, corporate jargon or grunts and gestures, the author reinforces a universal truth: we are a flawed species, and when pressed, we default to some very strange, very typical behavior. His characters are both bizarre and entirely recognizable: so many hapless, imperfect souls stuck in an even more imperfect world, trying to find happiness in spite of themselves--even, in one case, in spite of being dead. As Pogo was known to say, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Saunders' sense of humor elevates our mundane dance with discontent to a charming, hilarious, sad, familiar but refreshing jig.
(Ballantine Books, 2001)
4.0 out of 5 stars It is to laugh... and then feel really queasy,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Hardcover)Does this guy Saunders have a lock on the proto-futuristic-pre-wasteland-alternate-present-reality thing, or what? Is anything not made of plastic or human flesh in his world -- where the two seem as interchangeable as they are disposable? Do his characters not sport wounds that puss and spume but refuse to bleed?
Just wow. His stories make the lower gut ache at the thought of what this consumerist culture of ours might render, once the oil's gone and we've completely lost the ability to tell good stories on film; and the way things are going, that's gonna be next year, folks...
5.0 out of 5 stars the best bad metaphors,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)The satirical Pastoralia will cause you to harass your book-reading circle, reciting countless excerpts, promising that each will be the last you read aloud - that is until you turn the page and realize the next page is just as funny and cannot be left out.
If you read this book in public, Saunders will embarrass you as you laugh out loud at one bad metaphor after another from a man devouring his enchilada "as if it is alive and he doesn't want to wake it" to your friends and family "crapping it your oatmeal."
So here you go, but don't read all the six short stories in one sitting - let each provide you with its own break from reality.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quick, Hilarious, and Sometimes Heart-warming Read,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)I can imagine that some wouldn't like the fiction of George Saunders. It's bizarre at times in its pulling situations from left field and making them central to the world of its characters. It's even more bizarre, though, in its ability to invest these scenarios with legitimate feeling. For me, that's what makes Saunders' "Pastoralia" such an interesting, hilarious, and--at times--even heart-warming read: the mixture of the almost inhumanly bizarre on the one hand, and the totally human sentiment on the other.
The stories are constructed so that the reader spends the first couple of pages trying to squint at the new world we've been thrown into. There are things that look familiar--self-help mantras, frustration, common corporate names--but what on earth is with the roast goat? The pilot-themed male strippers? The barber's fantasies of love-making in a hacienda? Slowly, as we work at it, it all comes into focus, and then it's even funnier. Saunders times this increased clarity (this readerly struggle for clarity) so that it generates an increasing identification with the emotional situation of the protagonists, who are frustrated, limited by their own decisions and by the obligations imposed on them by their loved ones, and doing their best to cope in a civil and civilized way.
Saunders is merciless in his parodic cultural contacts: corporate culture, self-help culture, the overly-picky standards of the American male, Jerry Springer culture, the self-consciousness and self-doubt of aging academics, all of them get lampooned to no end. The collection is well-constructed, though, as most of the pessimism is weighted toward the beginning. What comes through in the end, then, in the later stories in the collection, is the rare and satisfying moment at which we rise above the ridiculous, at which our humanity trumps our absurdity. The final story is the best example of this; lost in reveries and longing for a chance at real heroism, a strolling academic is presented with a real, in-process life-or-death situation on the banks of a river. He can run away, or he can help. The fate of our worth--of the worth of humanity in general--rests in his hands, and he just might do us proud.
"Pastoralia" tells both sides of the story. As a collection, though, it builds nicely towards its defining moment. Saunders leaves us perched there, painfully aware of our failures but with the highest of hopes for what we might still do. It's a quick read, and a great collection of stories, and I highly recommend it.
4.0 out of 5 stars The anti-heroic in the age and place of the hero...,
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)The stories in "Pastoralia" center on eccentricly flawed characters teetering on the brink of making a decision. Much of Saunders' writing consists of the internal monologues of its protagonists. Their humanity, both weaknesses and strengths of character, is directly revealed as they struggle to determine their course of action. Some of the decisions they must contend with are ones that many in society make unconsciously or with very little honest reflection. Should I date this woman whose head is out of all proportion to the rest of her body? Should I rat out my attitudinally challenged co-worker who I have worked beside for years? Should I kick my sister out of the house?
Saunders delivers the goods in a self-effacing and homely manner. His prose is not flowery and often exposes the ugly motives behind actions that may seem noble from the vantage point of a dispassioned observer. He builds the tension through the thoughts of the characters, and his pacing is more concerned with the flowering of fleeting thoughts rather than the juggernaut of actions and events. If you have an affinity for the underdog, a passion for the barely observed, and a patience for moral ambiguity- you just may enjoy this book. I did.
1.0 out of 5 stars blech,
By A Customer
This review is from: Pastoralia (Paperback)I read two pages of glowing reviews here before I wrote this, and they were all written by men. I am not a man, and I did not like this miserable book. I wouldn't give this to any of my female friends, but I think my husband will like it. This book was full of negative energy and that's just not enjoyable. The reviews on the back of the book called it funny more than once, I found nothing funny. I like dark and in fact I love Bukowski, but this book.... blech.
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Pastoralia by George Saunders (Paperback - Jan. 17 2002)
CDN$ 18.50 CDN$ 13.36