American Gothic

George Saunders captures the soul of a bankrupt era

Chloe Aftel / Random House

Is there a worse place to work than a theme park? I'd suspect that George Saunders--poet laureate of the dead-end job--would say no. Since his debut story collection, 1996's CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Saunders has been drawn to cut-rate Adventurelands; think the Medieval Times chain but not so high-end. Cheap theme parks are funny and sad in the same way Saunders' stories are funny and sad. There's something especially soul crushing about drawing minimum wage to create illusion on a budget, and Saunders makes you feel the mental toll of living paycheck to paycheck. On the other hand, we have knights...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!