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.