If you love great writing and don’t know George Saunders’ work, there are three not-to-be-missed titles I would like to recommend: Tenth of December, a well-reviewed volume of short stories, Lincoln at the Bardo, a Man Booker Prize winning, unique (and I never use this term loosely) work of fiction, and A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, pictured above.
If you want to improve your writing skills, if you want to become a better reader of fiction, if you love the work of classic Russian writers, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is your dream come true. Saunders, who teaches writing Syracuse University, presents a master class in book form. We read seven short stories by Gogol, Chekov, Tolstoy, and Turgenev. Each is accompanied by a highly readable essay teaching us how to understand the story’s construction, meaning, and greatness. If this sounds in any way boring, trust me, it’s not.
Upon finishing A Swim in a Pond in the Rain I plan to reread Tenth of December and apply what I have learned from Saunders to his own short stories. Will they stand up to the Russian masters…? No matter. As a reader and a writer, this book has forever enhanced my capacity to “see” a story.