Liberation Day by George Saunders
Unmistakable Saunders. Strange and imaginative- several stories are in that favorite place of his where people are objects and objects are people, and the interactions tell us a lot about humanity. Whether it’s people pinned to a “speaking wall” to serve as instruments for rich people to use in performance, apparently having sold themselves into this condition, agreeing to have their memories wiped out of desperation, or props from amusement park rides who live in an underground village and are beaten to death for asking questions or, worse, for hearing anyone say anything inappropriate and not ratting them out, or winos (his word) kidnapped from under bridges, memories again wiped, to be used as extras in political stunts by activists- the move is a familiar one, and it remains largely effective.
It is a true collection in that we see the same themes reflected in interspersed stories set in our regular world. The tone may remain light, but we still get blame, totalitarianism, concern about people turning one another in, and people unwittingly serving as entertainment, all with a note of tenderness. Like everything he writes it’s weird and wonderful.