George Saunders: Critical Essays
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
This timely volume explores the signal contribution George Saunders has made to the development of the short story form in books ranging from CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996) to Tenth of December (2013). The book brings together a team of scholars from around the world to explore topics ranging from Saunders's treatment of work and religion to biopolitics and the limits of the short story form. It also includes an interview with Saunders specially conducted for the volume, and a preliminary bibliography of his published works and critical responses to an expanding and always exciting creative oeuvre. Coinciding with the release of Saunders's first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (2017), George Saunders: Critical Essays is the first book-length consideration of this major contemporary author's work. It is essential reading for anyone interested in twenty-first century fiction.
Co-editing this collection with my PhD supervisor, Philip Coleman, was a professional delight and one I am grateful to have been invited to undertake. It grew out of a panel we presented in Vienna, Austria, at the International Conference on the Short Story in English in the summer of 2014 and led to some great friendships with fellow scholars. I also had the chance to interview and meet George Saunders, who kindly gave the project his blessing.
Post-Jungian Psychology and the Short Stories of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut:
Golden Apples of the Monkey House
This book explores the short stories of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, written between 1943 and 1968, from a post-Jungian perspective. Drawing upon archetypal theories of myth from Joseph Campbell, James Hillman and C. G. Jung, the book demonstrates how short fiction follows archetypal patterns that can illuminate our understanding of the authors, their times, and their culture. Chapters carefully contextualise and historicize each story, including Bradbury and Vonnegut’s earliest and most imaginatively fantastic works. By exploring how the authors redressed old myths in new tropes, the book reveals a fresh method which can be applied to all short stories, increasing understanding and critical engagement.
All research in this volume was conducted for the thesis that earned my PhD at Trinity College, Dublin. The project was a great joy for me from beginning to end and led me to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in Indianapolis and the Lily Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, which houses Kurt Vonnegut's papers. As far as major projects go, this one was a thrill and I think some of that ecstatic joy is infused in the finished book.
Tales From the Internet
(Norbert Allen Books, 2015)
Kevin Storrar’s art adds weight to the collection I could never have achieved alone. He holds Master of Arts degrees in both Fine Art and Gallery Studies. Currently he works at The New Art Gallery Walsall, as well as continuing his own practice. This was his second major collaboration with me, Storrar making a distinct piece of art made for the title page of every story in the collection.
(Norbert Allen Books, 2013)
Kevin Storrar’s art complements the book. He holds Master of Arts degrees in both Fine Art and Gallery Studies. Currently he works at The New Art Gallery Walsall, as well as continuing his own practice. This was his first body of work produced specifically for a novel.
This novel is both funny and playful with the trope of time travel, but it also jumps right into the problem of stagnation in one’s life, of sacrificing human connection for the sake of discovery and capital gains. How many adults would, in the way they’ve lived, disappoint their younger selves? How much control do people really have over how they are perceived by others? How careful should we be when it comes to the ongoing process of becoming ourselves? Time’s Laughingstocks explores these questions—with plenty of Neanderthals, broken hearts, dinosaurs, and humor along the way.
(forthcoming from Reaktion Books, 2019)
I am very excited to see Mole published, as it led to the most astonishing discoveries I've ever made while researching. How else would I have ever spent a day shadowing Louise Chapman, Norfolk's Very Own Lady Molecatcher? Would I have ever learned any other way that Japanese haiku in the 1600s went through a whole movement of poems pitting moles against sea-slugs? Many of the details and images included in this book are bizarre and surpising in the very best ways. It will be great to see what readers make of this close scrutiny of the lives lived under our lawns.