Civilwarland in Bad Decline
By George Saunders
(Riverhead Books, Paperback, 9781573225793, 192pp.)
Publication Date: February 1997
List Price: $14.00*
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A "New York Times "Notable Book
"This book is a rare event: a brilliant new satirist bursting out of the gate in full stride, wildly funny, pure, generous--all that a great humorist should be."--Garrison Keillor
"An astoundingly tuned voice--graceful, dark, authentic, and funny--telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times."--Thomas Pynchon
"Scary, hilarious, and unforgettable . . . George Saunders is a writer of arresting brilliance and originality."--Tobias Wolff
"A cool satirist and a wicked stylist. The quirkiest and most accomplished short-story debut since Barry Hannah's "Airships.""--Jay McInerney, "The New York Times Book Review"
"Ingenious . . . full of savage humor and originality and] scorching brilliance . . . the author creates a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world that might have been envisioned by Walt Disney on acid."--"The Philadelphia Inquirer"
"The debut of an exciting new voice in fiction. Mr. Saunders writes like the illegitimate offspring of Nathaniel] West and Kurt Vonnegut, perhaps a distant relative of Mark Leyner and Steven Wright. He's a savage satirist with a sentimental streak who delineates, in these pages, the dark underbelly of the American dream: the losses, delusions, and terrors suffered by the lonely, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden and the plain unlucky. . . . Bizarre events pop up regularly in "CivilWarLand" like road signs on a highway, directing the reader toward the dark heart of Mr. Saunders's America. What powers the stories along is Mr. Saunders's wonderfully demented language, his ear for absurdity and slang, his own patented blend of psychobabble, techno-talk and existential angst. Mr. Saunders's satiric vision of America is dark and demented; it is also ferocious and very funny."--"The New York Times"
George Saunders is the author of two short-story collections, "Pastoralia" and "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline," a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Heming-way Award. His work has received two National Magazine Awards and three times been included in O. Henry Awards collections. In 1999 he was chosen by "The New Yorker" as one of the twenty best American fiction writers age forty and under. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
About the Illustrator
Lane Smith has illustrated several number-one national bestsellers, including "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!," "The Stinky Cheese Man," "Dr. Seuss's Hooray for Diffendoofer Day," and "James and the Giant Peach." Smith has twice won "The New York Times"'s Best Illustrated Book of the Year and in 1992 the Caldecott Honor. He is married to Molly Leach, the designer of this and many other books.
Praise for CivilWarLand in Bad Decline:
A New York Times Notable Book
"An astoundingly tuned voice—graceful, dark, authentic, and funny—telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times."—Thomas Pynchon
"The dystopian short story is alive and kicking, wearing a black leather jacket—maybe stolen in a barroom brawl—and telling deadly dark, off-color jokes. His name is George Saunders, and he's half-huckster, half-saint; he's got shades of both Denis Johnson and Raymond Chandler.... By turns he's ferocious, witty, and uproarious, but what makes his fiction memorable is the gravitas of its dark portraiture of America."—The Boston Globe
"Ingenious...full of savage humor and originality [and] scorching brilliance...the author creates a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world that might have been envisioned by Walt Disney on acid."—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Alarming and funny...Saunders invites comparison less to Aldous Huxley than to Kurt Vonnegut.... A debut of an original, darkly funny voice."—The Atlantic Journal-Constitution
"A savage satirist with a sentimental streak who delineates, in these pages, the dark underbelly of the American dream...Mr. Saunder's satiric vision of America is dark and demented; it is also ferocious and very funny."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times