by George Saunders
from the April 6, 2020 issue of The New Yorker
Oh boy, I am not sure my mind can handle a George Saunders story this week. His work so often holds a distorting mirror up to us that helps us see just how close we are to a horror story, and I’m just not sure I’m up for one in the midst of this pandemic. At the same time, there’s often something compassionate in his work, some glimmer of hope that is more than just his good humor.
“Love Letter” is, as the title suggests, a letter, one a grandfather is writing to his son, and it makes for a pretty quick story, albeit one I have not read fully yet (tonight!). From his interview (here) I see that Saunders has placed this letter in the context of what is to some, including me, a horrific future where not only was Trump re-elected in 2020 but then Trump’s son follows in his father’s footsteps in 2024.
Here’s how it begins:
Got your e-mail, kid. Sorry for handwriting in reply. Not sure e-mailing is the best move, considering the topic, but, of course (you being nearly six foot now, your mother says?), that’s up to you, dear, although, you know: strange times.
From the looks of it, Saunders wrote this story before the current strange times we’re living in, though that certainly must have come up in the edits and in the decision to publish this now.
So, how is “Love Letter”? I’m always hopeful I’ll love every new Saunders story, so I’m looking forward to reading it tonight. Will it help me take my mind off the pandemic and the terrible headlines that continue to pop up? I’m not sure . . .