Short Story #35. Sea Oak (George Saunders)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the seven of hearts.

Story: Sea Oak, by George Saunders [online here]

Comments: I liked this story, though it’s not a genre that I would normally appreciate.  Thomas, who works as a stripper, his sister and his cousin, both single mothers of very young kids, poorly educated, unemployed, and “lazy”, and his aunt Bernie, a figure of self-sacrificing goodness, live in a run-down housing complex which is very dangerous for the kids.  Bernie dies suddenly.  And then comes back from the dead, with a message to the others about how to get out of their poverty-trap.  But she is no longer the good, clean-mouthed person that she was in real life… Will the family take her message on board?

Poverty, unemployment, poor education, poor housing, the aspirations – or the lack of them – of people in that situation, are described in an undramatic, realistic way.  This makes the return of Bernie from the dead all the more puzzling – why does Saunders use this format?  What is he trying to tell us through the various paradoxes?

I loved the dialogue, especially that of Min and Jade.

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2 thoughts on “Short Story #35. Sea Oak (George Saunders)

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 46 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

  2. I’ve read a couple Saunders stories now,but only one of them “took” for me. I know he’s highly acclaimed and plan to read more, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Fortunately, I’ve been able to learn of a few from my fellow DMI’ers. 🙂 Where n earth does the “Sea Oak” title come from?

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