Saunders interview

Ben Greenman interviews George Saunders about the excellent nonfiction piece I mentioned Monday, which appears in the current issue of The New Yorker:

I found the story funny, but many people who have read it have found it bottomlessly sad. Do you find it funny or sad? Or do you find the Manichaean nature of this question inherently stupid? Isn’t part of the trick to do both at the same time, because both are mixed together so closely in actual life?

Yes, I think that if something is really funny it is probably also a little sad. And vice versa. Humor implies the presence of certain good human qualities. So the presence of humor in a brutal story makes it all that much sadder, because it says: It could have been otherwise.

Saunders’ comments interest me especially because most of the fiction published under the Treisman regime strikes me as restrained and humorless, at least in contrast to the stories typically run by Buford. Thankfully, the nonfiction selections are not under the Treisman umbrella and have not suffered the same fate.

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