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New stories show George Suanders to be more sophisticated, still awesome

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Tenth of December: Stories, by George Saunders

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There's no beating around the bush. George Saunders is an awesome writer. The short-story specialist returns with the brilliant Tenth of December. Featuring some of the signature science fiction elements and sad humor we've come to expect and love from his work, Saunders also gives us, at times, a more sophisticated point of view that in no way detracts from his quirky writing, but could perhaps ingratiate him a little more to more highbrow literary critics.

George Saunders opens his collection with "Victory Lap," a fast-paced story centered around the abduction of a teenage girl and the young man who witnesses it. In these 20-odd pages, Saunders builds a whole world for his two adolescent characters, giving them complete personalities--a feat some authors struggle to accomplish over the course of a novel.

"Sticks," a short story so short you could accidentally look over if you turned the page too fast, is a great example of the author's trademark brand of sad humor. "Escape from Spiderhead" focuses more on the sad than the humor (though it's not without its laughs).

With stories like "The Semplica Girl Diaries," Saunders uses his science fiction as a literary metaphor to mirror today's society. Semplica Girls, as it turns out, are a rather gruesome way for young immigrant girls to make some money, a quiet comment on our own immigrant culture, I'd wager. Many stories have something to say, whether its science and criminal justice in "Escape from Spiderhead" or violence against women in the slightly gimmicky "My Chivalric Fiasco" or the largely under-investigated field of male vanity in "Al Roosten." Everything George Saunders writes is with purpose, not to mention being sickly hilarious.

Bottom Line: Go buy the book! Buy all his books! If you've never heard of George Saunders before, now's your chance to get acquainted. If you have heard of him, you probably already own Tenth of December.

You can find Tenth of December, short stories by George Saunders, at your local chain bookstore, online or at an independent bookstore near you (click here for a list). Also look to download the short stories on your eBook reader: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook or iPad.

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