ISBN 0-679-44812-8


CivilWarLand in bad decline by George Saunders

CivilWarLand in bad decline by George Saunders

This week I chose CivilWarLand in bad decline, stories & a novella by George Saunders because it was the first book that launched GS’s career back in 1996 and it had a novella in it. I try not to blog about my own writing because I know, via Richard Yates in “Builders” how annoying it can be for a writer to talk about their own work, but I also know via RY, if one does it right it can be liberating.

I’m currently working on a novella, and I’m stuck. Right in the middle when all the action ought to be climbing steadily—you know like the little mountain climber on The Price Is Right— “Yodela, Yodela, Yode—” the novella just fell off the mountain.

A novella can fall off a mountain for any writer. It’s called writer’s block.

But I don’t have writer’s block. What happened to me was that I plotted out the novella only this far back before I got sick and now I’m on medication that prevents me from thinking way ahead, creating schemes, or plotting in general. I’m just not as sharp as I used to be. I’m nice and level which is great, but I’m not creative.

So what do I do now? Because the depressive phase is coming and all my body wants to do is sleep. I feel like I’ve fallen off a mountain.

I think about GS’s novella, “Bounty,” and its claw footed protagonist, a flawed, and I notice how all he wants is to get back to his sister to save her from being sold into slavery. This is the very simplest story line.

Protagonist wants sister to be okay.

And then I find that I am somehow climbing back up that mountain. I ask myself what is happening in the novella, who wants what, what is the simplest story line, and I find it.

Even though CivilWarLand in bad decline was written seventeen years ago, the book is still funny and current, and more importantly it reads like nothing else out there. GS wrote this book in the beginning of his career back when he was working as a geophysical engineer for an environmental company.

GS has an amazing imagination, but I don’t think he would have ever imagined a girl suffering from a bout of the bipoles would pick up his book seventeen years later and figure out a road back to her own novella.

This book may make some people walk away thinking, thank god they aren’t as flawed as one of GS’s characters, or it’s so funny to laugh at people like that, but the book made me walk away and look at my flaws and try to learn which ones I should just accept and which ones I can change. And in some sick way, it’s almost worth falling off the mountain for me to figure that out.



Filed under Art, Bipolar Disorder, Books, Fiction, Life, Literature, Random, Writing

7 responses to “ISBN 0-679-44812-8

  1. I see nothing wrong with talking about your own work in your blog as long as it’s not pushed down our throats. I enjoyed reading about your problem with the novella and how you fixed it. Kind of ironic really when you think about it. I have followed a couple of other blogs that were obviously automated or something, because I would get anywhere from 6 – 10 emails a day telling me I needed to buy their book. It got so bad I had to stop receiving their email posts which really hated to do, but to keep my sanity I had too. I would not purchase anything from those two bloggers ever. So they wasted their time and money. So you see, speaking about your work sometimes is great, but 10 times a day might be a little more than most of us would appreciate. I hope you are feeling better now and good luck with that novella.

    • Thanks Donna! I also hate when I get bombarded with spam for someone who wants me to buy their book. I find that that happens a lot more on twitter. I am feeling so much better now and working hard on having the novella done by Jan. 1st. Wish me luck. And I hope your writing is going well.

  2. hey the girl who reads books, I’m also love books that’s why I really love your page. it’s awesome! I just want to know if how can I put some advertisers in my blog? I really appreciate the help 🙂 here is my link: 🙂

    • Hey Jimmy, I didn’t put the ads on my blog, and in fact I wish they would take them off. I don’t make any money form them even though I pay for the web domain.

      • really, oh… I thought when they put something like that in your site you’ll gain some income. okay then, thanks for the help and I wish you would visit my blog and try to read my online novel “ANSELM and GRETA” thanks and Godbless 🙂

  3. Glad you got back on track with your writing…I love that inspiration can be found in so many different places, and that the answer is usually pretty simple. Can’t force it. Good luck!

  4. Charlie, you can talk about your writing whenever you want. It’s your blog, and you can do whatever you want with it. I would love to know more about what you are personally writing. … I like how this book helped you to have clarity on which way to go next. Good luck with your writing.

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