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SAUNDERS, George (b. 1958). CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. Stories and Novellas. New York: Random House, 1996. 8°. Original cloth-backed boards; dust jacket.
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SAUNDERS, George (b. 1958). CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. Stories and Novellas. New York: Random House, 1996. 8°. Original cloth-backed boards; dust jacket.

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SAUNDERS, George (b. 1958). CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. Stories and Novellas. New York: Random House, 1996. 8°. Original cloth-backed boards; dust jacket.

FIRST EDITION, signed twice on the title-page. This is among the most colorful of the annotated books—in the literal and figurative sense. Saunders has covered the pages of the book with marginal notes in green, blue, red, and purple inks. Several sketches adorn the pages. The notes provide the addresses of the residences where he wrote the stories, as well as the journals in which some of them originally appeared. On the table of contents he tells us about other stories written in this period, even some abandoned works, such as “an abortive piece of crap” about a “giraffe at an Africa-themed rest area. Blecchh!” His reactions to this earlier work are overwhelmingly positive. Of “400 Pound CEO” he says, “On this re-read of the book, I think this is my favorite story. I like how this young(ish) writer has his heart on his sleeve.” In the margin of “Bounty,” he recalls how he “was obsessed with brevity, speed, ‘non-literary’ language. Telegraphic = ideal.” These textual notes alone cover three-quarters of the books 179 pages. There are also 26-lossely inserted note-cards containing vignettes and observations like the following (on the title story): “Since 1997, Ben Stiller & I have been trying to make a movie of this story. One ongoing issue: what do these ghosts look like? I had one scheme where a ghost flickers between all the ages the person ever was: way expensive. Best ghost we’ve found: Hamlet’s father in Mel Gibson’s version. The trick? Actor wears zero makeup – and is not lit.” Two cards at the end contain this “Closing thought: I like the audacity of this book. I like less the places where it feels like I went into Auto-Quirky Mode. Ah youth! Some issues: Life amid limitations; paucity. Various tonalities of defense. Pain; humiliation inflicted on hapless workers – some of us turn on one another. Early on, this read, could really feel this young writer’s aversion to anything mild or typical or bland. Feeling, at first, like a tic. But then it started to grow on me—around ‘400 Pound CEO.’ This performative thing then starts to feel essential; organic somehow – a way to get to the moral outrage. I kept thinking of the word ‘immoderation.’ Like the yelp of someone who’s just been burned.” And if all that were not enough, there is a separate packet of appendices, containing among other things photocopies of rejection letters. A Saunders feast.
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