Saturday, October 29, 2005

By George, that smarts.

Check out George Saunders' short story, "In Persuasion Nation," which appears in this month's Harpers. Of all the hallucinogenic social critiques the prolific Saunders has published lately, this is my favorite.

The exchange between the orange and the Slap-of-Wack bar is especially well done.

"I have vitamin C," says the orange.
–"So do I," say the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"I have natural fiber," says the orange.
–"So do I ," says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"You do?" says the orange.
–"Are you calling me a liar?" says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"Oh no," says the orange politely. "I was just under the impression, from reading your label? That you are mostly composed of artificial colors, an innovative edible plastic product, plus high-fructose corn syrup. So I guess I'm not quite sure where the fiber comes in."
–"Slap it up your Wack!" shouts the Slap-of-Wack bar, and sails across the counter, jutting one pointy edge into the orange.
–"Oh God," the orange says in pain.
–"You've got an unsightly gash," says the Slap-of-Wack bar. "Do I have an unsightly gash? I think not. My packaging is intact, weakling."
–"I have zero calores of fat," says the orange weakly.
–"So do I," says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"How can that possibly be the case?" says the orange in frustration. "You are composed of 80 percent high-fructose corn syrup."
–"Slap it up your Wack!" shouts the Slap-of-Wack bar, and sails across the counter and digs its edge into the orange over and over, sending the orange off the counter and into the garbage can, where it is leered at by a perverted-looking chicken carcass and two evil empty cans of soda.
"Now you have zero of zero of zero," says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
"The Slap-of-Wack bar," says the voice-over. "For when you're feeling wacky!"

(The orange does get a chance to fight back. But you'll have to read the story to find out how it all ends.)


At 6:16 PM, Blogger Ms. Pipestem said...

Oh good: you noticed it too. I started to read the story because I adore the writing of George Saunders, and then I was like what in hell is this that I'm reading? And then I couldn't stop myself from reading aloud large portions of it to my husband, who was at his computer patiently trying to pretend like he couldn't hear me so he could work.

I found the story slightly irritating, which means that I spent a lot of time thinking about it, which probably means that it's brilliant. Though I am not yet sure about that judgement.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger YelloCello said...

I'm glad to know that someone else found herself reading passages aloud to her husband.

I don't pretend to know anything about George Saunders, but it may be significant that he teaches at a university with a lot of advertising majors.

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