Tenth of December by George Saunders

★★★★★ (5/5)

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

Victory Lap

  • Because in terms of friends, Kyle was basically down to Feddy Slavko, who walked leaning way backward and was always retrieving things from between his teeth, announcing the name of the retrieved thing in Greek, then re-eating it.
  • Dees was still teaching the best course ever in Ethics, posing such questions as: Can goodness win? Or do good people always get shafted, evil being more reckless? That last bit seemed to be Mrs. Dees taking a shot at the bowling-alley gal. But seriously!
  • then realized, holy golly, he had thrown his shoes into the garage rather than placing them on the Shoe Sheet as required, toes facing away from the door for ease of donnage later
  • Then he saw that the kid was going to bring the rock down. He closed his eyes and waited and was not at peace at all but instead felt the beginnings of a terrible dread welling up inside him, and if that dread kept growing at the current rate, he realized in a flash of insight, there was a name for the place he would be then, and it was Hell.

Escape From Spiderhead

  • It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within
  • “Violence finished, anger no more,”
  • What’s death like? You’re briefly unlimited.

Al Roosten

  • Well, it had been an accident. He had just accidentally misplaced some things inadvertently. With his foot. Via spontaneously kicking them erroneously.
  • which had fried his ass possibly worse than any single other ass frying he’d ever had, in a life that, it recently seemed, was simply a series of escalating ass fries.

The Semplica Girl Diaries

  • So goodnight to all future generations. Please know I was a person like you, I too breathed air and tensed legs while trying to sleep and, when writing with pencil, sometimes brought pencil to nose to smell. Although who knows, maybe you future people write with laser pens? But probably even those have a certain smell? Do future people still sniff their (laser) pens? Well, it is getting late and I am going far afield in these philosophical speculations.
  • When will I have sufficient leisure/wealth to sit on hay-bale watching moon rise, while in luxurious mansion family sleeps? At that time, will have chance to reflect deeply on meaning of life etc., etc. Have a feeling and have always had a feeling that this and other good things will happen for us!
  • Stood awhile watching, thinking, praying: Lord, give us more. Give us enough. Help us not fall behind peers. Help us not, that is, fall further behind peers. For kids’ sake. Do not want them scarred by how far behind we are. That is all I ask.
  • If kids raised too cautious, due to paucity, will not world chew them up and spit out?
  • Have been sleepwalking through life, future reader. Can see that now. Scratch-Off win was like wake-up call. In rush to graduate college, win Pam, get job, make babies, move ahead in job, forgot former feeling of special destiny I used to have when tiny, sitting in cedar-smelling bedroom closet, looking up at blowing trees through high windows, feeling I would someday do something great.
  • Only difference between you, sitting there anticipating rest of your day, and Todd, in coffin, bound for eternal home in cold earth? Is heartbeat.
  • Why were we put here, so inclined to love, when end of our story = death? That harsh. That cruel. Do not like.


  • I couldn’t believe the house. Couldn’t believe the turrets. The back gate was redwood and opened so smooth, like the hinge was hydraulic.
  • It was like the baby was demanding, with its eyes: Hurry up, tell me what all this shit is, so I can master it, open a few shops.

My Chivalric Fiasco

  • Yet the Heart of Man is an Organ that doth not offer Itself up to facile Prediction, and shall not be easy Tam’d.
  • Although, on the other Hand, did not the Devil himself, upon occasion, don the Garb of Moderation, as might befit his Purpose?

Tenth of December

  • Reconstructing the kids in this way was having the effect of making them real to him again.
  • and that feeling, that feeling of being accepted back again and again, of someone’s affection for you expanding to encompass whatever new flawed thing had just manifested in you, that was the deepest, dearest thing he’d ever –

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