George Saunders is the author of two novellas and four short story collections, including Civil War Land in Bad Decline (1996) and his most recent work, Tenth of December (2013). A New York Times bestselling author and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur “Genius Grant,” his career has been met with both popular and critical success. He now teaches creative writing at Syracuse University’s MFA program. This fall, Advocate Features Board member Warner James Wood conducted this interview over email. It has been edited for concision and clarity.
Nothing says happy holidays like a trip to the mall. Drooping garlands swaying to a decaying cassette player, bleary-eyed consumers everywhere, holiday spirit in the air; the most wonderful time of the year. In between stops and swipes, a child’s will and insistence drags his family onto a different kind of line, to a path striped with candy canes straight to the North Pole. Each step leaves an imprint in plastic snow, all leading toward the big man at the end. For every child, this time is the most important part of the holidays, the moment to speak face-to-face, man-to-man, with Santa Claus himself.
The incident reported below took place on July 1, 2011, at 11:41 p.m. In Blue Ridge, GA. Jim Callihan has been indicted with charges of vehicular homicide, among others. His trial is set for spring 2014. Names have been redacted out of sensitivity to the family.
You’ve got to hear about this. Crazy stuff.
It begins in 400 BC, when a guy who probably isn’t real goes for a run that probably doesn’t happen. The guys who write about this kind of thing back then call him Pheidippides, which is at least a real name. Athens is playing Persia on the battlefield when the home team wins and our runner is tasked with delivering the news—a straight shot to Athens to let the head honchos know they’re good to go in the Battle of Marathon. And so we have ourselves a race.
Everything was either rain or screens. The screens shined out and lit up the rain in bulbous shapes. The rain was dripping on the screens too. Mai took her flats off and walked barefoot to the bus. She could feel the gum spots on the sidewalks.