Friday, April 28, 2006

Sea Oak

Too many things going on right now to write a real entry about last night's George Saunders reading. Suffice it to say that Saunders is an amusing reader, who knows how to gage his audience's attention span. I wish he didn't read his recent New Yorker riff because I wasn't crazy about it to begin with; it was too Dave Barry and, in my opinion, he could have ended it one page early.
Yet I am not entirely fit to be critiquing Saunders's work, as I was just introduced to his writing this past fall, after meeting several friends who had Saunders as a professor at Syracuse University. One such friend, ADAM FRUCCI, was at the reading last night and graciously introduced me to Saunders.
ADAM FRUCCI is a tall guy, with thick eyebrows, a penchant for pita sandwiches and improvisational theater, and an exceptional propensity for being a smart ass. Sorry, ladies, he's taken. His lovely girlfriend, Mollie, was also in attendance last night and perceptively questioned what "shit they put in the water at Syracuse to make everybody so crazy about Saunders."
This is a valid point. Saunders is not the next David Sedaris or Dave Eggers. No, Saunders is not an exceptional super-star writer, but he is honest both in his craft and his presentation. He knows how to deal with an audience and is well skilled at the art of public reading. He really reads his stories, but does not feel the need for theatrics, and gamely interacts with his audience. This is very important because, let's face it, the best part of any reading is always the Q&A session. Saunders is funny, a la Sam Lipsyte, but his teaching background makes him more personable and thus more approachable as a reader and an audience member.
I picked up a copy of his new book, In Persuasion Nation, browsed through it on the train ride home (gladly uninterruped by exhibitionists) and am looking forward to reading it in its entirety. So far, each story seems to encompass the general theme of which Saunders spoke at the reading: eschewing the barriers of religious extremism and materialistic culture for that of harmony in our increasingly globalized society. Saunders's main weapon in underscoring these false dichotimies is humor and a satirical imagination. You don't need shit in your water to find value in his talent, although I'm sure he would like the plot twist.


Blogger Adam said...

Now THIS is how you write a blog post. Kudos, Toby. Kudos.

5:39 PM  

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