George Saunders is a mad genius, a goddamn literary legend who, in my humble opinion, can do no wrong. For instance, if George Saunders kidnapped a member of my immediate family, placed them in a highchair and fed them only applesauce for six months, I would be fine with it, because it was probably for his art and will likely remind people of some immutable and beautiful truth about life.
If you’re not familiar with George Saunders, I am wholly intimidated by the idea of explaining him to you using my mere words. (Maybe an interpretive dance would help?) Suffice to say that he’s an original, eccentric, MacArthur Genius Grant-winning writer, responsible for short-story collections (Pastoralia, CivilWarLand In Bad Decline, Tenth Of December, and In Persuasion Nation, among others) that fall somewhere between neo-futurist satire and sci-fi, between incisive comedy and heartrending tragedy. He writes about ordinary people leading strange, dark lives—i.e., living in a disturbingly real-seeming, dystopian-future America, or working at bleak, imaginary theme parks where dying violently is an occupational hazard, or returning from the dead to encourage their nephews to strip for extra cash. He also has one of the best beards I’ve ever come across, which is relevant.
There’s a great New York Times profile on Saunders written by Joel Lovell, who agrees with me that it is really hard to talk about Saunders. Lovell himself struggles to do so throughout the piece, describing Saunders as a “kind of superhero,” “a writer’s writer,” and “a savage, satirical voice,” explaining that when you read his stories, “you feel known.” I’d add that you also feel depressed and uncomfortable, but in a really good way. Anyway, guys, it’s hard to explain George Saunders! George Saunders is brilliant and nuts and I love him. Just go read every single thing he’s ever written, then come back and read the rest of this post.
Today brings news that MGM has acquired the rights to The Very Persistent Gappers Of Frip, a children’s book written by Saunders, whom THR refers to as “one of the preeminent short story authors of the 21st century literary scene.” (See? It’s so hard.) Illustrated by Lane Smith, Frip is described as:
“A seaside fable telling the story of a little girl named Capable and her plight to fight off a daily invasion of Gappers, bright orange, multi-eyed creatures that love goats so much that they attach themselves to them and prevent them from giving milk. When the Gappers target Capable’s goats, her town’s only two neighboring families (it’s a small town) turn their backs on Capable and her widowed father, leaving the heroine to fend for herself against the pesky creatures.”
Saunders will produce the adaptation, thank God, otherwise I could see it devolving into some kind of diluted, safe nonsense or a bad Dr. Seuss imitation. I haven’t read this book, which is the biggest mistake of my adult life thus far, but am personally thrilled that Saunders’ particular brand of mindfuckery has, and will continue to, impress itself upon America’s young and malleable children.