A bag of Doritos beats up a young man: "'Who do you think you are?' the young man screams at the Doritos bag. 'Do you believe yourself to be some sort of god?' You're a bag of corn chips, with tons of salt and about nine colouring agents! That's all! That's all you are!' The Doritos bag takes a huge sword from behind the back of its bag and decapitates the young man."The cogs churning George Saunders' mind never cease to amaze me. He comes up with these weird - and yet not entirely irrelevant - scenarios and technology in his short stories. In his collection of short stories, In Persuasion Nation, we have the 'I CAN SPEAK' technology which enables your baby to 'talk'; a type of sensor in one's shoes that personalizes ads as you walk around the city. Then there are SmallCows which are frozen mini-steaks that can be microwaved or have their "ThermoTab" pulled: "When you pull the ThermoTab,something chemical happens and the SmallCows heat up."
He plunges the reader into these worlds - although consumed with newfangled technology, still quite like the world today in its own way - with little warning, and when you finally emerge from it, it's not easy to head into another one. So these stories, I reckon, need to be gnawed at one at a time.
However, while I've loved most of his other works that I've previously read, such as Pastoralia, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, and Civilwarland in Bad Decline, I found In Persuasion Nation harder to get through. Quite a few of the stories were a little too out there, and I just couldn't get through them at all.