Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders, Cape pounds 9.99.
Sunday 24 March 1996
Within this would-be world, Saunders sets out the mess of feeling both tender and ferocious, making sweetness and horror ricochet off each other. In "Isabelle", a racist cop devotedly cares for his paraplegic deaf-mute daughter, until a vengeful shotgun blast kills him - but there is redemption to come. In "Offloading for Mrs Schwartz", a porn-simulator grieves for his dead wife, until he finds an altruistic use for suicide. In an early- America theme park haunted by the ghosts of its dead owners and by real- life gangs, the narrator records his own violent end: "Possessing perfect knowledge I hover above him as he hacks me to bits. I see his rough childhood. I see his mother doing something horrid to him with a broomstick. I see the hate in his heart and the people he has yet to kill ..."
If it were less inventive, Saunders's invention might become tiresome. His emotionalism, too, could topple over into sentimentality if he didn't constantly employ violence as a treacle-cutter. In both areas, however, this fascinating writer comes close to the edge and just about gets away with it.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Calum Chambers: Southampton's latest example of Generation X-factor
- 2 Crash victims in car flattened by shipping container emerge with just minor injuries
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 4 Exclusive: David Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Joey Barton and Yossi Benayoun become involved in Twitter row over Israel-Gaza conflict
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Orange Is The New Black season 3: Pornstache isn't coming back
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains