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Publisher's Summary

Since its publication in 1996, George Saunders’ debut collection has grown in esteem from a cherished cult classic to a masterpiece of the form, inspiring an entire generation of writers along the way. In six stories and a novella, Saunders hatches an unforgettable cast of characters, each struggling to survive in an increasingly haywire world. 

With a new introduction by Joshua Ferris and a new author’s note by Saunders himself, this edition is essential listening for those seeking to discover or revisit a virtuosic, disturbingly prescient voice.

Praise for George Saunders and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline:

“It’s no exaggeration to say that short story master George Saunders helped change the trajectory of American fiction.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“Saunders’s satiric vision of America is dark and demented; it’s also ferocious and very funny.” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

“George Saunders is a writer of arresting brilliance and originality, with a sure sense of his material and apparently inexhaustible resources of voice. [CivilWarLand in Bad Decline] is scary, hilarious, and unforgettable.” (Tobias Wolff)

“Saunders makes the all-but-impossible look effortless.” (Jonathan Franzen)

“Not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny.” (Zadie Smith)

“An astoundingly tuned voice - graceful, dark, authentic, and funny - telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times.” (Thomas Pynchon)

©1996 George Saunders (P)2019 Random House Audio

What listeners say about CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

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  • jdk
  • 13-09-19

Gold

I love George Saunders' work. Imaginative and beautiful works of morale reckoning and not.

All aspiring writers need read the author's note which comes with the audio version. The book is read by Saunders, and, I like to think, he's playing guitar to his music.

It's insightful to contrast his voice in memior with that of his fictional characters. Authenticity is among his style's strengths in both. Sweetest succor in the times of Boris Trump.

I have a dream that one day I might meet Mr. Saunders, and in shock that he doesn't have a shaft of blue light coming from the top of his head, I shamefully piss myself.

6 people found this helpful

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  • A. Cohen
  • 25-08-19

Favorite author. Favorite narrator.

I have been waiting years and years for Saunders to read his earlier work. So happy to see both CWIBD as well as Pastoralia now available, read by the author. Thank you for taking the time to read these George. You are the best.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom
  • 21-04-21

Nope. Just can’t care.

I tried to read this collection to the end, but I just couldn’t care about anything he was writing. I don’t know what all the acclaim is about. He writes well enough, but his subject matter just doesn’t matter.

A waste of time.