Reading Saunders’ story collection now, while I finish up Roth’s novel. Still have a few stories to go, including most of “The Semplica Girl Diaries,” but a few initial thoughts.
Great storyteller. The one-page story “Sticks” is ridiculously moving, and without ever being sentimental. “Puppy” is also moving in a different way, but the source of the emotional charge in both stories seems to be the narrative structure itself. He’s ferociously economical; everything advances the story and the theme. Funny, too. Funny and tragic. A more stylistically inventive Vonnegut.
I don’t know if I love any of the characters, but that was true with Vonnegut too. (Except that I did love Eliot Rosewater, back when I discovered him as a teenager.) Great range of narrative voices, too. The shifting language of “Escape from Spider Head,” the choppy journal entries of “Semplica Girls.” But “Sticks” is still probably my favorite right now. Brutally short, unsentimenal, unsettling, with no gimmick at all, just the strange and moving object at the center of the story.