Lisa Schwarzbaum
June 30, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Pastoralia

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
George Saunders
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

To call George Saunders’ compellingly strange, funny, and poignant style Twin Peaks-y isn’t to date his singular voice but to place it: The six hypnotically absurd stories in the slim collection Pastoralia are all slices of life from a lumpy apple pie baked with utterly, mutantly American fruit. Two company workers bicker on the job — which consists of grunting in a pit like cave dwellers. A male stripper is bullied by his visiting dead aunt. All the mean wisdom of a me-first self-actualization seminar boils down to this: ”Don’t crap in my oatmeal.” Saunders (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline) cuts into the crust of our national desire to fit in, and out bubbles overflowing national weirdness. A-

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