George Saunders' Short Stories Collection

Like many of George Saunders’ books, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline features several short stories in which a recurring theme involves something that was built up with the intention of magnificence, but has since fallen into disrepair and eroded with the passage of time. The cover takes this somewhat literally– everything is going down the drain.

Pastoralia continues to explore the dystopian themes of a near-future potential America ruled by bloated corporations. In the titular story, the protagonist, stuck in a dead-end job pretending to be a caveman at a dying theme park, is taxed even for the bags of garbage and human waste that he regularly dumps. The bags become symbolic, having some enforced value despite being destined to nothing more exciting than being shipped off to a forgotten landfill.

In Persuasion Nation takes on a more science-fiction flavor, with characters of television commercials living out their vignettes on a perpetual loop in an alternate universe. Nevertheless Saunders continues to call out the corruption of the power-hungry with a voice as darkly humorous and witty.

I am often asked if I took the photographs for these covers. Yes. Yes I did.