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Review: Tenth of December

January 18, 2013

Tenth of December

I’ve been reading a lot about Tenth of December, a short story collection by George Saunders, so I decided to pick it up to see what all the fuss was about. I went into the book with pretty high expectations and, as I started it, I wondered why everyone was raving about it.  The first stories in the book were good, but I wasn’t sure I really “got” them. Then I got to Home, the story of a veteran, and the family he returned to, and I knew why people are talking about this book. I freely admit that I don’t feel qualified to review this book but will gladly share my thoughts.

The stories in Tenth of December are dark and desperate, yet full of longing and hope.  They feature people doing their best, struggling to get by.  In other words, they’re full of characters people can relate to.  Of course, I enjoyed some of the stories more than others.  My favorites were

  • Home – In this story, a young veteran returns home and tries to fit in. He’s struggling to make sense of things and finds his family has struggles of its own.
  • Tenth of December – A man fighting cancer wonders if life is worth living and encounters a young boy who doesn’t quite fit in.

As I finished these stories, I sat and reflected on them.  They made me think and even made me a little uncomfortable, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  They’re the kind of stories that beg to be talked about so this book would be a great choice for book clubs.

While I didn’t love every story in Tenth of December, and I may not have understood all of them, I appreciated what Saunders was trying to do.  If you enjoy literary fiction, you won’t want to miss this short story collection.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
32 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2013 4:27 am

    You’ve written a wonderful review. Both the stories seem very emotional. I had never heard of this story collection.

  2. January 18, 2013 5:34 am

    I love that you gave this book room. I have my copy here, waiting for a little air. He works toward big ideas, big themes. I have no doubt that you understood, and I know that you are more than qualified to speak.

  3. January 18, 2013 6:58 am

    I’ve seen this one around as well and while I don’t read a lot of SS collections, I do like dark stories. Sorry I didn’t get a copy now. Thanks for sharing Kathy.

  4. sandynawrot permalink
    January 18, 2013 7:14 am

    Short stories are funny that way. Because they are short, there is often not enough time for it to really lay things out. Sometimes I understand them, and sometimes I don’t. But if they made you feel something, that is good!

  5. January 18, 2013 7:19 am

    I had to laugh because I almost always feel less than qualified to review the books I read 😉 I’ll watch for this collection.

  6. January 18, 2013 7:24 am

    I’ve read some of his stories in the New Yorker and they were memorable! I didn’t realize he had a story collection out.

  7. January 18, 2013 9:19 am

    Sounds great and I think you are thoroughly qualified to review anything. If you like to read and have the capacity to feel, you are thus qualified to have an opinion. And I also don’t think you have to like every story to like a collection. Maybe I’m feeling rather opinionated myself, today.

  8. January 18, 2013 9:45 am

    I was hesitant about the book. Often so much rave leads to disappointment. I think your review is balanced and makes me want to read these stories after all.

  9. January 18, 2013 10:14 am

    I’m not really a short story person, but I’m glad these were rewarding to you!

  10. January 18, 2013 10:43 am

    I too have heard wonderful things about this collection, I shall have to check it out. And you did a great job on this review. “not qualified” whatch you talkin ’bout?

  11. January 18, 2013 10:48 am

    I’ve begun to enjoy short stories a lot more than I did previously. This one is high up on my list. Glad that you loved it!

  12. January 18, 2013 11:42 am

    Nice, a book named after my birth date. Yeah, that’s what I took from this… lol… I quickly realized the book wasn’t for me otherwise.

  13. January 18, 2013 12:03 pm

    I think uncomfortable is good when it comes to reading. I like to stretch myself a bit when I pick up a book and I find that books like this one, stay with me long after reading them. Sounds like a powerful collection of stories.

  14. zibilee permalink
    January 18, 2013 12:13 pm

    I read one of Saunders’ previous books, and thought that it was a little weird, but surely interesting. This one sounds as if it is even more promising than the one that I read, and I will be looking for it. That one story that you mention about the soldier coming home really piques my curiosity. Partially because it sounds wonderful, and partially because you loved it. Nice job today, Kathy!

  15. January 18, 2013 12:13 pm

    I’m not big on short story collections, but I haven’t given up on them yet. I liked your honest review of this one.

  16. talesofwhimsy permalink
    January 18, 2013 12:45 pm

    It does sound perfect for a book club. Great review.

  17. January 18, 2013 3:31 pm

    It truly does sound like a unique and diverse collection. I love the idea of stretching when I am reading something…especially when its a genre that I don’t usually read.

  18. January 18, 2013 5:12 pm

    Now you have definitely piqued my interest…thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  19. January 18, 2013 5:57 pm

    Thank you…interesting.

    Elizabeth

  20. January 18, 2013 6:35 pm

    I was just reading about this book (in EW magazine I think) and I was curious about it. Apparently he is known for his short stories and his “weirdness.”

  21. January 18, 2013 9:26 pm

    Another excellent review, Kathy! I hadn’t heard of this collection before, but now I will keep an eye out for this short fiction.

  22. January 18, 2013 10:29 pm

    Sounds really powerful. Thanks for spreading the word about this collection.

  23. swright9 permalink
    January 18, 2013 11:14 pm

    The stories sound a bit dark but I’m interested in reading this one. Sometimes short story collections can be powerful and just the right books to read.

  24. January 19, 2013 12:02 am

    Overall, it does sound like a good short story collection. I do enjoy this genre.

  25. January 19, 2013 10:40 am

    very interested to read this review as there are a lot of mumblings about the return of the short story format. What do you think about this?

  26. January 19, 2013 5:18 pm

    Even though you didn’t love it, the book sounds like it certainly has some great stories in in to discuss!

  27. January 19, 2013 10:24 pm

    I think short stories are a bit like poetry. They have to be a little bit disected! I have to sit and think about them, too. But, it sounds like you found some to like… :]

  28. January 20, 2013 9:43 am

    Lately I’m having this same issue with short story collections – the stories inside are hit or miss for me, leaving me feeling overall “meh” about the entire book. But right now I’m reading News From Heaven and I’m taking long breaks in between reading each story, and it’s really working for me. Going forward this is how I will treat short fiction when I do choose to read it.

  29. January 20, 2013 3:53 pm

    I’ve been seeing this book out there, and now after reading your review I am convinced to at it to my growing list of Books I Want. Thanks for sharing!

  30. bookingmama permalink
    January 21, 2013 4:36 pm

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a book with this much hype! I think your review is great.

  31. January 21, 2013 10:17 pm

    literary fiction and short stories are two no starters for me, although the Home story sounds worth reading.

  32. January 23, 2013 6:43 pm

    I’m not a big fan of short stories, but I’m glad you found a couple good ones in this collection.

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