Thursday, February 14, 2013

GEORGE SAUNDERS



Last week, courtesy of my friend Ellen who had an extra ticket, I got to hear short story writer George Saunders "in conversation" with L. A. writer Bernard Cooper (with whom I once took a class and whom I revere) at the downtown Central Library.

I've long been a Saunders fan--I posted on the title story of his new collection, Tenth of December, when it first appeared in The New Yorker--and though there aren't a ton of writers I'd be thrilled to see, he is definitely one of them.

Anyway, the two of them were stupendous: so articulate, so witty, so smart, so generous with and accommodating of each other. Plus they had so much to say about writing. One of the things Saunders—who’s a natural performer/entertainer/comic/storyteller—had to say, or had to remind us, was never to take the easy way out. Always to surprise, to entertain, to take a risk, to be human, to be true.

To that end, he mentioned the Ernest Hemingway short story, "Indian Camp," Raymond Carver, Stuart Dybek, and the DeZurik Sisters, a small-town Minnesota yodeling duo from the 1930's who attributed their success to the fact that they "listened to the birds and tried to sing with the birds."

Saunders said he played this song for his students as an example of breaking all the rules. The lyrics are lame, the song doesn't make much sense, musically you're kind of going, What?...and by the end, everyone who hears it is captivated.





7 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Heather!
    Your post gave me my first smile of the morning : >)
    Barb

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  2. Thanks for sharing, Heather!
    Your post gave me my first smile of the morning : >)
    Barb

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  3. P.S. Maybe I should have been more specific ~ listening to the song birds (De Zurik Sisters) gave me my first smile of the morning : >) The endless possibilities of what humans can achieve sometimes makes me giddy with thankfulness to God.

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  4. Heather: Thank you for this. I just finished reading a book that simply broke the rules, but did not know how to break them. Ugh.

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  5. The music is astounding. Once again Beauty breaks through ordinary appearing circumstances to put a little hitch in our (my) headlong rush to power through the day while confining fears troubles anxieties to a compartment where no air can get in or out.

    Blessed be The Lord. Blessed be His Holy Name.

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  6. That yodeling was fantastic! I love your blog and your books. You always uncover some shining little beauty in the ordinary. Thank you.

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  7. Hi Heather,

    I never have read blogs, until I found yours. Going on one month, puzzling. I never know what to expect when I visit, but I enjoy it. Yodeling? Awesome, who would have thought.

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I WELCOME your comments!!!