Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Random House
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If you're familiar with George Saunders, there's no real work this text here needs to do for you. You know that each new book from the satirist is an event occasioned by mountains of hyperbolic praise. Tenth of December, his latest short story collection, mines contemporary America for the bleak jokes Saunders trades in. Our heir to short-story master Donald Barthelme, Saunders illuminates the dark with more darkness. Only it's funny darkness. Like in "Victory Lap," where a young girl is kidnapped and her neighbor decides whether to intervene. Or "Puppy," a story that animal lovers should avoid, unless they want to be haunted by images of dead puppies and kittens.

If you're not a devotee, Tenth of December will change that. —Ross Scarano