Thursday, August 13, 2009

Early Saunders

Via The Elegant Variation: the first short story ever published by George Saunders (1986, the Northwest Review).

I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to doing that soon.

I did read this introduction to the story by Tobias Wolff.

Wolff recalls the time when he was wading through all the applications for Syracuse's graduate writing program and how Saunders' story immediately stood out:

"...over the past couple of weeks I have read many thousands of pages, some good, some impossible, most drearily competent and well-behaved, and I am bleary-eyed and bored and thinking of becoming a forest ranger, if they’ll have me.

"And then I pick up this story; or, more truly, I am picked up by this story and taken for a ride through antic dips and loop-the-loops and headlong plunges into the unexpected.
I haven’t read anything like it this year, nor, indeed, in all my years of reading applications. It went right to the top of the pile, and stayed there, and a few days later I was calling George Saunders with the offer of a fellowship. If memory serves, he was then living in Amarillo, Texas, playing guitar with a folk-country band, and doing maintenance at a motel for his keep. He took the proffer, bless his heart, and the rest is history."

The world without George Saunders writing and publishing fiction? I don't want to even think about it.

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