George Saunders Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 101 quotes)
Now I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters. He enters in one state of mind and exits in another. The writer gets no points just because what's inside the box bears some linear resemblance to "real life" -- he can put whatever he wants in there. What's important is that something undeniable and nontrivial happens to the reader between entry and exit.
Good God, but life could be less than easy, not that he was unaware that it could certainly be a lot worse, but to go about in such a state, pulse high, face red, worried sick that someone would notice how nervous one was, was certainly less than ideal, and he felt sure that his body was secreting all kinds of harmful chemicals and that the more he worried about the harmful chemicals the faster they were pouring out of wherever it was they came from.
More and more these days what I find myself doing in my stories is making a representation of goodness and a representation of evil and then having those two run at each other full-speed, like a couple of PeeWee football players, to see what happens. Who stays standing? Whose helmet goes flying off?
Then I'm a paunchy guy in a room, with a note pinned to his sleeve: "You were alone in the world," it says, "and did a kindness for someone in need. Good for you. Now post this module, and follow this map to the home of Mrs. Ken Schwartz. Care for her with some big money that will come in the mail. Find someone to love. Your heart has never been broken. You've never done anything unforgivable or hurt anyone beyond reparation. Everyone you've ever loved you've treated like gold.
After dinner the babies get fussy and Min puts a mush of ice cream and Hershey's syrup in their bottles and we watch The Worst That Could Happen, a half-hour of computer simulations of tragedies that have never actually occurred but theoretically could. A kid gets hit by a train and flies into a zoo, where he's eaten by wolves. A man cuts his hand off chopping wood and while wandering around screaming for help is picked up by a tornado and dropped on a preschool during recess and lands on a pregnant teacher. ("Sea Oak")
Vonnegut's war was necessary. And yet it was massacre and screaming and confusion and blood and death. It was the mammoth projection outward of the confused inner life of men. In war, the sad tidy constructs we make to help us believe life is orderly and controllable are roughly thrown aside like the delusions they are. In war, love is outed as an insane, insupportable emotion, a kind of luxury emotion, because everywhere you look, someone beloved to someone is being slaughtered, by someone whose own beloved has been slaughtered, or will be, or could be.
Father," she said late one night. "I can't keep up. Our goats are dying. We're going to have to ask the neighbors for help.""Have we ever done that before?" he said."We've never needed help before," said Capable."Well I'm against it," he said. "If we haven't done it before, it stands to reason that this time is the first time we've done it, which means that, relative to what we've done in the past, this is different, which I am very much against, as I always have been, as you well know. I have consistently been very very consistent about this.
...There is no end to the making and selling of things there is no end to the making and selling of things there is no end...Man, it occurs to me, is a joyful, buying-and-selling piece of work. I have been wrong, dead wrong, when I've decried consumerism. Consumerism is what we are. It is, in a sense, a holy impulse. A human being is someone who joyfully goes in pursuit of things, brings them home, then immediately starts planning how to get more.
A hip-looking teen watches an elderly woman hobble across the street on a walker."Grammy's here!" he shouts. He puts some MacAttack Mac&Cheese in the microwave and dons headphones and takes out a video game so he won't be bored during the forty seconds it takes his lunch to cook. A truck comes around the corner and hits Grammy, sending her flying over the roof into the backyard, where luckily she lands on a trampoline. Unluckily, she bounces back over the roof, into the front yard, landing on a rosebush.
That's it for me. I'm fucked. As per usual. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Although come to think of it I was never even the freaking bridesmaid. Look, show your cock. It's the shortest line between two points. The world ain't giving away nice lives. You got a trust fund? You a genius? Show your cock. It's what you got.
The mind, it occurs to me, is an engine. There is an ambient mode in which the mind sits idling, before there is information. Some minds idle in a kind of dreading crouch, waiting to be offended. Others stand up straight, eyes slightly wide, expecting to be pleasantly surprised. Some minds, imaging the great What Is Out There, imagine it intends doom for them; others imagine there is something out there that may be suffering and in need of their help. Which is right? Neither. Both. Maybe all of our politics is simply neurology writ large. Maybe there are a finite number of idling modes. Maybe there are just two broad modes, and out of this fact comes our current division.