What’s the difference between an innovation and a gimmick in literature? An innovation expands the author’s vision while a gimmick tries to hide his lack of one. You’ll find excellent examples of both in George Saunders’ recent short story collection, Tenth of December.
When Saunders is good in this volume, he is very good indeed, and the elements he uses frequently throughout Tenth of December work well together to create resonant stories. These elements include …
- language that is faulty or inadequate, usually because the narrative voice belongs to a person with whom Saunders has not shared his gifts as a writer.
- characters who are teetering on the edge of economic / social / psychological / personal failure confronting other characters who enjoy extraordinary success (no one seems to occupy the middle ground).
- the motif of fictional pharmaceuticals that can regulate every human characteristic.
- strong satiric impulses balanced…
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