Tenth of December
I borrowed Tenth of December from a friend at work who is currently reading though an endless amount of Proust and doesn't have time to read anything else. This was my first time reading Saunders, who appeared at the fringes of my awareness about a year ago as a name with a lot of buzz. I caught the very last story of his reading at Powell's earlier this year and he caught my attention with his enthusiastic reading voice.
There is something dark about these stories, it's not that the protagonists are particularly dark, but the world they inhabit is. There are unspecified wars, prison industrial complexes which run tests on inmates, kidnappers, girls who sell their bodies as decoration, and the every day struggles of being working class. Maybe dark isn't the right word, maybe bleak is. But there is hope, the people in this world are trying hard to make things work, to do the right thing, and even when everything seems to be falling apart they find something to live for.
She came in flustered and apologetic, a touch of anger in her face. He'd embarrassed her. He saw that. He'd embarrassed her by doing something that showed she hadn't sufficiently noticed him needing her. She'd been too busy nursing him to notice how scared he was. She was angry at him for pulling this stunt and ashamed of herself for feeling angry at him in his hour of need, and was trying to put the shame and anger behind her now so she could do what might be needed.
All of this was in her face. He knew her so well.
Overriding everything else in that lovely face was concern.
She came to him now, stumbling a bit on a swell in the floor of this stranger's house.