Whatnot, Writing 101: Class of 2014
Comments 7

The Most Interesting Author, So Far, of 2014

That guy is not George Saunders

Hey hey hey! How’s it going? Today is the sixth day, second week of the Writing 101 course organized by WordPress. And today’s challenge is about people. Yes, you might have guessed that with the photo above. No, this has not turned into an entertainment blog. You’re still on the right blog. I just wanted to put an interesting face beside an interesting book. It’s not necessary because the book is very, very interesting in itself. Please stop me from explaining too much, just indulge me in this little guilty pleasure.

Here we go:

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

I’m going to twist this challenge further: Who’s the most interesting author whom I’ve read this year?

I didn’t have a hard time answering this: it’s George Saunders. In 2013, I’ve heard a lot about him. Some of my bookish friends read his most recent collection of short stories and gave it dazzling ratings. Other friends read his other collections and still, the ratings are dazzling. By the end of the year, Tenth of December was making the rounds of the Best of 2013 lists. March came and he won the inaugural Folio Prize. This prompted me to get a copy of the book and create a group at Goodreads dedicated to reading all the winners of The Folio Prize.

So who is George Saunders? He’s a scruffy short story writer (he’s still working on that novel) born in Texas. Before that, he was an engineer and a technical writer (!). He’s in his middle 50s, which is still quite young considering the accolades that he has already received for his works.

Reading his short stories, particularly the ones included in Tenth of December, I get the feeling that he’s a funny man. Indeed, he is. He is included in one of those Flavorwire lists as one of the ten funniest living authors (with David Sedaris and Junot Díaz). If I am not mistaken, he’s also included in a list of good-looking authors (I don’t remember where that list is from). Now it makes sense to take a photo of his book beside a printout photo of Dane DeHaan.

I love how Saunders writes the interjections of his characters (Oh wow. Gosh.). The staccato gushes depict genuine surprise. I also love the sci-fi elements that are present in some of his stories (reminder to self: write a proper review of Tenth of December soon). It would be interesting to be a part of his creative writing class at Syracuse University. He says Kurt Vonnegut inspired his work. Dane DeHaan’s favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. Hmm.

Recently, Saunders gave a graduation speech, which was turned into a book. These graduation speeches could have a genre of their own, right? There’s David Foster Wallace (a friend of his) and Neil Gaiman before him doing these speeches, and these are two of the coolest authors of this generation. Doesn’t this make George Saunders cool? Scratch that. Doesn’t talking about kindness to fresh graduates make George Saunders cool? And interesting?

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7 Comments

  1. Monique says

    Aren’t graduation-speeches-turned-into-books just a tad… boring? I haven’t read one, and I’m wary that they’re too preachy for my taste.

    And yay for George Saunders! My copy of Pastoralia is in transit from Book Depository. Can’t wait to get my hands on it! :D

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    • I like them regardless of the preachiness! They are not at all preachy. The more capable writers can turn the preachy into an epiphany.

      And I’m surprised you haven’t read/listened to Gaiman’s speech!

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    • Monique says

      Hmm, I guess I haven’t been looking? :D Or I really just don’t feel inspired to read/watch graduation speeches.

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  2. This was my book of the year last year, Saunders really blew me away with this one. I’d never read him before, but immediately went out and bought a few more! I like the theme of his commencement speech, we don’t emphasis kindness enough.

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  3. I don’t know which makes me happier, you raving about the awesome George Saunders and his Tenth of December, or seeing your badass Dane Dehaan picture. But gosh, now I am kind of regretting not getting Civilwarland (or maybe I should have considered Pasrtoralia) as my freebie from you. :) I am going to add his graduation speech book on my list. Speaking of DFW, I haven’t had a chance to read any of his books. They seem pretty intimidating and difficult. Gaiman though, I get.

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    • LOL! It’s a cheap printout from the office. I want one printed on photo paper but I’m too shy to ask the guy at the printing shop to print photos of an achingly beautiful man.

      DFW requires superhuman strength because his books are heavy. Like 2 kg heavy. I haven’t tried his essays though but I’ll sure do.

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