A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.
Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.
Today, the first of June, I present a nice, brief, short story by George Saunders, A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room. It’s available online, here:
A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room
Go ahead and read it – won’t take too long.
I have become a fan of George Saunders in the last few years. One of his stories, Sea Oak, was read and written about in the aforementioned June of 2013. More recently I wrote about the book, Tenth of December – his most recent tome of short fiction. I have checked his book Pastoralia out from the local library and it is next on my reading list.
His stories are full of tragedy and absurd humor. They dwell on the corporate influence on our lives today and take the soulless void of daily life – and stretch it to the extreme. Below this surface, though, lies the innermost desires and passions of the human heart struggling to rise through the thick layers of bullshit to be seen in the light of day.
Or something like that.
Today’s piece, A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room is of the type. It’s typical Saunders fare. As a matter of fact, it is prototypical.
What made the work interesting, is an introduction by author Tobias Wolff. Tobias Wolff is another of my favorite writers – his story Hunters in the Snow was also in my list of last year’s June subjects. I hear him speak at the Dallas Museum of Art once – his lecture on a classic poem (Two roads diverged…) has affected my views on literature ever since I heard it.
Read the introduction here:
Genius: an Introduction to George Saunders’ “A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room”
It turns out that Tobias Wolff picked A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room out of the slush pile back in 1986 and gave George Saunders a fellowship that jump-started his writing career. In the years since Saunders has emerged as one of the most important writers of our day.
It’s always interesting to learn what twist of fate has enabled someone to rise from the vast pool of striving mediocrity into the rarefied air of success and fame.
That’s all it takes – the ability to craft something that will grip an uber-talented man like Wolff and make an impression strong enough for him to remember the moment of reading the story almost thirty years later.
That’s all it takes.
I opt for the Juarez at the Hollo-Chick Haus. It’s a South of the Border Taste Riot. A Hollo-Chick is a kind of chicken conglomerate, the size of a football and hollowed out. You can have whatever you want in there, croutons or sweet-and-sour pork or a light salad even. The Juarez is the one filled with sour cream and refried beans and some little sliced black things. I opt for extra sauce packets.
Always opt for extra sauce packets.
Yay for the return of the month of short stories. Saunders’ story is like a wonderful piece of modern art; unexpected, intriguing and highly entertaining. Sure, like Wolff, I don’t know exactly what it is all about but I like it.
He has a very impressive imagination and reminded me a little of the futuristic story in Cloud Atlas.
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