“The universe actually isn’t designed to protect you at all. It really isn’t. We’re getting an international reminder of that in spades. But my working class impulse is to go, ‘Alright. I’m going to try to accept it as fast as I can, so I don’t end up paralyzed by it. And I’m going to dedicate all this incoming sorrow, to truth.’” – George Saunders, episode 207 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
George Saunders (“Tenth of December”, “Lincoln in the Bardo”) is one of the finest American writers working today. With the release of his new book, “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain”, we talk about combating cynicism (5:00), the power of Chekhov and Tobias Wolff (8:52), regarding literature as a fondness for life (12:30), a summer of Steinbeck (15:00), deconstructing the (male) mythology of Hemingway (26:45), and how starting a young family changed his course (35:00).
On the back-half, we talk craft and process (39:00), his conversations with the late David Foster Wallace (42:15), and his aim to entertain any kind of reader (44:39). To close: he shares an excerpt from his short story, “Love Letter” (49:02), and the need to live urgently (53:43).
- Read George’s new book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain.
- Visit George Saunders’ personal website.
- Read his short story, “Love Letter,” published by The New Yorker.
- George Saunders on the Longform podcast.
Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.
Music by: Dylan Peck
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