I’ve had Tenth of December by George Saunders on my “to be read” pile for a while now. I am also a free subscriber to Story Club with George Saunders. But when I learned that one of the stories from Tenth of December would be the basis for a new Netflix movie (Spiderhead), I finally picked up the book and read it.
The book is a collection of ten short stories of various lengths. The writing is crisp. The stories are engaging. This is not unexpected since Saunders teaches in the MFA program at Syracuse University. Not all of the stories were to my liking, though I had three favorites. These were “Escape from Spiderhead”, “Exhortation”, and “Tenth of December”.
The first of these is the basis for the Netflix movie. The story is about a prison where psychological experiments are performed on “volunteers” using drugs. The main theme is self-determination. The second is in the form of a corporate memo. It is both disturbing and humorous while also feeling uncofortably on the nose. And my final favorite was the story of how two lives cross — a young, socially awkward boy with a vivid imagination and a terminal old man determined not to be a burden on his family. Whether you are a fan of short stories or are new to the art form, this is an excellent book to pick up and read.