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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (5,724 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: George Saunders Narrator: George Saunders Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9780385359740
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Tenth of December: Stories, 2013, is a collection of short stories by George Saunders.

In the opening story, Victory Lap, a young boy bears witness to an abduction of his next door neighbor. His harrowing choice? Ignore what he sees, or overcome years of advice from his parents and act.

In Home, a combat veteran moves back home with his mother, struggling to reconcile two very different realities.

In the title tale Tenth of December, a cancer patient wanders to the woods to end his life, only to find a troubled youth who just might give the him a second chance to remember and regain himself.

The unforgettable characters, beyond just these, who live in the pages of this short story collection are imbibed with color and with empathy. As always, the signature prose of Saunder's blends innovation with a deep touch of humanity.

George Saunders was born in 1958 in Texas. Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, he received his undergraduate degree in geophysical engineering. He later obtained an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University. He worked as both technical writer and geophysical engineer for Radian International, an environmental engineering firm, and for a time with an oil exploration crew in Sumatra. In 1997 he began teaching creative writing with the Syracuse MFA program, all while publishing critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction. He has received the MacArthur and the Guggenheim Fellowship and has been published in Harper's, The New Yorker, McSweeney's and GQ. With a tragicomic element to his writing, he often focuses on the absurdity of consumer and corporate culture as well as mass media.

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.

In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. In the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’ signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.

Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.

Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December, through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit, not only entertain and delight, they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A feat of inventiveness…This eclectic collection never ceases to delight with its at times absurd, surreal, and darkly humorous look at very serious subjects…George Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.”

    Khaled Hosseini, New York Times bestselling author

  • “You want funny? Saunders is your man. You want emotional heft? Saunders again. You want stories that are actually about something—stories that again and again get to the meat of matters of life and death and justice and country? Saunders. There is no one better, no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity.”

    Dave Eggers, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Saunders is a true original—restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane.”

    Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

  • “An irresistible mix of humor and humanity…that will make you beam with unmitigated glee.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Saunders’ startling, dreamlike stories leave you feeling newly awakened to the world.”


  • “The best short-story writer in English—not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the Best.”


  • “No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised…Although sentiment has always lurked beneath the antic, corrugated surface of Mr. Saunders’ work, there is a new sympathy for his characters in these pages, an emphasis on how bad luck, poor judgment, lack of resources and family misfortune can snowball into violence or catastrophe.”

    New York Times

  • “George Saunders captures the fragmented rhythms, disjointed sensory input, and wildly absurd realities of the 21st century experience like no other writer.”

    Boston Globe

  • “It’s no exaggeration to say that short story master George Saunders helped change the trajectory of American fiction.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Eventually, a suspicion creeps in that, behind Saunders’ comic talents, he might be the most compassionate writer working today.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Selected for the January 2013 Indie Next List
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title” in January 2013
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A #1 Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • Finalist for the 2013 Story Prize for Short Fiction
  • A Huffington Post Best Book of 2013
  • A 2013 People Magazine Best Book
  • A 2013 NPR Best Book
  • A 2013 Entertainment Weekly Best Book
  • A 2013 BookPage Best Book
  • A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2013 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year
  • A 2013 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A 2013 Time Magazine Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2014 Indies Choice Book Award Honoree for Adult Fiction
  • A 2013 National Book Award Finalist
  • A 2013 Salon Magazine Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ida Hagman | 2/18/2014

    " Outstanding, brilliant, compassionate, Truly great short stories. Saunders ranks with Morrison, Faulkner, Joyce and other great modern writers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jon | 2/17/2014

    " Very good, but I do like both PASTORALIA and CIVILWARLAND more than this collection. It's good to see him being lauded, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cher | 2/11/2014

    " In the past six months George Saunders has been spotlighted throughout the literary world as the great American writer of our times, so I started short story collection Tenth of December with eager anticipation. These stories are very clever, well-written, and filled with anxiety, dark humor, longing and a overwhelming dissatisfaction with contemporary life. Many of the characters seem to be flailing, sinking, drowning in everyday life and can't see their way clear to safety, financial or physical. The stories "Victory" and "Escape from Spiderhead" in particular were very moving and engaging and honestly caused me actual anxiety. That said, I can't say I enjoyed the reading overall. I held off writing a review because sometimes story collections require reflection, but I read two other collections around the same time and appreciated them and connected in particular with Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell so much more. While the authors address similar concepts of longing, dissatisfaction and anxiety, Ms. Russell's writing opened a door for me to connect with the characters while Mr. Saunders' writing kept me at arm's length. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel Virtue | 2/2/2014

    " Probably my least favorite short story collection by Saunders. I normally cherish his collections, rereading them, and thinking of them offen; however, this one his writing imitated his characters and was distracting(he normally does this to a degree, but in this collection it was taken to an extreme). I believe you do not have to write like your uneducated characters to show effective characterization. The themes were similar to his other work, but they did not resonate with me to the same degree. I still really enjoyed the book, and it if you love Saunders do not hesitate to pick it up. I found two of the short stories amazing. I hope the other ones grows on me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Johnson | 1/31/2014

    " This is George Saunders' most recent collection of short stories, and they are very much of this time and place. Each story dissects the body politic using a different tool, but the lesion Saunders discovers is always the same. Saunders' collection of misfits, losers and diseased protagonists all face a moral dilemma which forces them to choose between moral integrity and obeying the rules and regulations of a morally bankrupt society. In the first story, 'Victory Lap', a very nervous young man must choose between violating the directives of his tyrannical father and rescuing the girl next door on whom he has a crush. This story is a clinic on the art of building suspense in narrative. In one of the futuristic pieces, which includes homages to Orwell and, most especially Anthony Burgess, a juvenile murderer has been volunteered by his parents to serve as a guinea pig for psycho-pharmaceutical research in lieu of prison. Again, he must choose between saving the life of a fellow guinea pig and provisionally ensuring his own continued well-being. A returning war veteran who has lost his marriage, his home, his prospects of earning a living, wants to kill his deadbeat mom and her deadbeat boyfriend, his perfect sister and her perfect husband and perfect children and perfect in-laws; again, the suspense is built slowly and so subtly that the reader is like the proverbial frog in the proverbial pan of water heated slowly to the boiling point. An employee at a Medieval Theme Park must choose between job advancement and concealing the fact that his supervisor uses his position to coerce his female subordinates into having sex with him. In the longest of the stories, 'The Semplica Girl Diaries', Saunders takes the reader into a bizarre possible future in which young women from third world countries, dressed in starched, immaculate white linen and strung together on a thin wire passed through their skulls, are the most coveted symbols of elevated social status. When the spoiled daughter of an upwardly mobile father and status conscious mother questions the ethics of this practice, she is identified as a trouble-maker by her teachers, her peers and her parents. So, is it possible to remain true to one's moral code and succeed within a system that requires systematic violation of the Golden Rule in order to function? Saunders answer is: yes, it is possible, even necessary, but it may very well cost you your life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William Wright | 1/29/2014

    " A pretty great collection that doesn't quite live up to the hype due to a few filler stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Garrett Zecker | 1/21/2014

    " A stunning and gorgeous collection from Saunders, whose postmodern and amazing narrative is a striking addition to the canon. This book is structurally beautiful, and each story deals with our ultimate difficulty with dealing with our own existence and humanity. It is poetic, surprising, and adventurous in many ways. My favorite from the collection, while they are all masterful and amazing, is easily "Escape from Spiderhead." It satirically and magnificently deals with the confusing, contrasting, and often confounding contrast of what it means to be both human and an animal on the planet earth. I flew through this collection relatively quickly, and enjoyed every moment of it. I also did not hesitate to recommend it to the other readers in my life with great enthusiasm. Certainly, these stories reflect modern mastery, and true understanding of human love, loss, lust, and looking one's own mortality in the face... and punching it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Evan | 1/20/2014

    " Wonderful, original, sometimes creepy short stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicki | 1/17/2014

    " Absolutely incredible. It was like reading a book written specifically for me, as narcissistic as that sounds, in that it combined everything I love about literature into 10 short stories. I couldn't stop reading it. Just, wow. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colin Wilkins | 12/23/2013

    " I'm mad at myself that it's taken this long to encounter George Saunders. Brilliant, brilliant writing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julie Coletti | 12/21/2013

    " Just not my cup of tea. Thought I could get back into short stories but no such luck. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 12/4/2013

    " Quirky short-stories. George Saunders writes worlds that are just a bit crueler, the rules somewhat harsher than reality -- yet most of his characters are nobler, kinder, and sweeter than the places they inhabit. The juxtaposition is quite pleasing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sam | 12/1/2013

    " This was pretty standard George Saunders. Good, but nothing unexpected. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert Widi | 8/27/2013

    " Loved this book. Subsequently went out (no kidding) and bought every one of his other books except "Phil" and the children's book. Like the darkness most of all... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pgregory | 6/27/2013

    " The hype preceding publication of this book made me wary. I'm still wary. Some of the stories didn't gel for me, yet. I listened to the audiobook read by the author and I'm going back to review some of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 5/31/2013

    " These are strange, quirky stories. I felt a sense of unease while reading them which I guess is what the author was going for or at least is what is know for. Fun to read a little at a time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Myra Sherman | 5/10/2013

    " I was afraid it wouldn't live up to all the buzz, but it was the best book I've read in quite awhile. Truly amazing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bronwyn | 3/29/2013

    " Interesting but creepily detached voice. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mari | 3/17/2013

    " Really incredible. i cannot recommend it highly enough. Extremely unique. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 3/11/2013

    " Very dark; will never forget "The Semplica Girl Diaries" or "Puppy". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 3/9/2013

    " really dark but beautifully written - each story makes you think "

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About the Author

George Saunders is the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, including Tenth of December, Pastoralia, and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, as well as a collection of essays and a book for children. Saunders is a MacArthur fellow and teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.