Tag Theodicy

Theme-park theodicies

cc Neal Fowler/flickr

Pastoralia: Stories, by George Saunders (RiverHead Books, 2000), 188 pp., $22.95.

So the pitch for the story goes something like this: a young man, the product of a working-class Chicago neighborhood, educated as a petroleum engineer at the Colorado School of Mines, starts writing at his computer terminal on the sly short stories about sad people with hilariously bad jobs, and then out of relative nowhere gets published by the New Yorker. His first collection of stories (1997’s CivilWarLand in Bad Decline) brings him acclaim throughout the literary parallel-universe as a new and astounding voice, which has seemingly burst fully formed from the head of Zeus.