I’m not very interested in political satire because it works on the assumption that They Are Assholes. Fiction works on the assumption that They Are Us, on a Different Day.

George Saunders. Re-tumbling this part of a really good interview because it’s an election year. Just doing my part for America.


Six years ago Wikipedia started with a radical idea. That’s true. I ain’t promising you nothing extra. I’m just giving you life and you’re giving me life. And I’m saying that men can live together without butchering one another.

Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.

Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.

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UPDATE: Download the Safari extension by Troy Gaul that puts this on Wikipedia. After installing, see it in action here.
(via Daring Fireball)

TMR: An Interview with George Saunders


George Saunders in a wonderful, wonderful interview.

Success is nice because then you don’t have to worry so much about having been unfairly robbed of your very richly deserved success. Success is bad because momentary good fortune can temporarily hide the fact that you are still, despite your success, full of shit.

So much good stuff here:

Interviewer: So much of your fiction is charged with social import. Given our recent political upheavals, have you ever thought of writing overt political satire?

Saunders: I’m not very interested in that kind of satire because it works on the assumption that They Are Assholes. Fiction works on the assumption that They Are Us, on a Different Day.


Any mastery you can achieve in writing is totally personal and incredibly nuanced. It’s a sort of antimastery, feeling comfortable with being unsure.

And also:

One of the wonderful benefits of energetically pursuing a writing career is that I’ve come to understand the staggering limitations of my abilities. […] So one way I cope with this humbling state of affairs is via a little mantra: If I just stay fully engaged in whatever has presented itself, things will be fine. That is, I try not to think about things like: Next, I begin MY NOVEL!

TMR: An Interview with George Saunders

There are three kinds of critics: those who have importance; those who have less importance; those who have no importance at all. The last two kinds do not exist: all critics have IMPORTANCE.


How could one imitate a Critic? I ask myself that. Well, at any rate, the interest in doing so would be rather thin–very thin: we have the original–HE IS SUFFICIENT.

A Hymn in Praise of the Critics: Those Whistling Bell-Buoys Who Indicate the Reefs on the Shores of the Human Spirit, by composer Erik Satie. Vanity Fair, September 1921 [pdf]. If you only know him via his Gymnopédies, you might not expect him to be such a goofball.