Esquire (USA)

An Ardent Fan’s Notes


One reader we know who will be sitting down with this latest Saunders collection is Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, a wellknown devotee of the author’s work. “Once I discovered him, I kind of devoured everything I could find,” he says. We asked Tweedy to share his favorite reads from the existing Saunders shelf and tell us why they move him.

CIVILWARLA­ND IN BAD DECLINE (1996) “This may be the most quintessen­tial George Saunders. It kind of establishe­s his main gifts. There’s this playful employment of jargon, just absorbing the way people really talk to each other. And a lot of it is difficult writing, but it’s never presented in that way—it’s never presented as an academic exercise, it’s never presented as anything other than a sincere, genuine reaching out, an effort to connect.”

THE BRIEF AND FRIGHTENIN­G REIGN OF PHIL (2005) “Just because it’s so prescient. It seems more and more appropriat­e every year.”

“TENTH OF DECEMBER” (2011) “This illustrate­s something I don’t know that anybody else has ever been better at—having internal dialogue, internal thoughts, drive so much of the action in a story. That seems a difficult thing to do, to tell a story where you’re watching it but you’re also hearing and feeling what someone’s thinking as they’re moving through this environmen­t that’s created. I don’t know anybody else that makes that feel so real.”

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO (2017) “Like a high-wire act across the Grand Canyon. It has this strange tension and beauty. It’s like a magic trick somehow.”

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