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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Comic Genius George Saunders

The only American publication I still receive here in Spain is The New Yorker. It gets here a little late so you'll have to excuse the late news. Probably my favorite funny person in the world, George Saunders, has a story called Puppy in the May 28 issue. Not to spoil this mess of a story for you but I found this part laugh-out-loud funny. Why did I find it laugh-out-loud funny? It just is.

But if no one took the pup he’d do it. He’d have to. Because his feeling was, when you said you were going to do a thing and didn’t do it, that was how kids got into drugs.

I will probably steal this line, not in print but in conversation. When I do I doubt that I will get a laugh, just a blank stare and a "I think I have to go now."

This is one of the funniest things that I have ever read. It's taken from a George Saunders story in Pastoralia called The Barber's Unhappiness. A group of people are forced to take a remedial driver's education course for speeding violations. The instructor gives this tortured discourse on safety:

"What I was saying was that, our aim is, we're going to be looking at some things or aspects, in terms of driving? Meaning safety, meaning, is speeding something we do in a vacuum, or could it involve a pedestrian or fatality or a family out for a fun drive, and then here you come, speeding, with safety or destiny of that family not held firmly in your mind, and what happens next? Who knows?"

"A crash?" said someone.

"An accident?" said someone else.

"Crash or accident both could," said the instructor. "Either one might or may. Because I've seen, in my CPR role, as a paramedic, when many times, and I'm sorry if you find this gross or too much, I've had to sit in our rescue vehicle with a cut-off arm or hand, even of a kid, a really small arm or even limb, just weeping as if I hadn't been thoroughly trained, as I know none of you have, but I have, and why was I holding that small arm or limb and bawling? Because of someone like you yourselves, good people, I know you are, I'm not saying that, but you decided what? What did you decide? Or they. That person who cut off that kid's arm I was carrying that day I was just saying."

No one knew.

"They decide to speed is what you did," said the instructor sadly, with pity for both the armless child and the otherwise good people who on that fateful day had decided to speed, and now sat before him, lives ruined.

"I didn't hit nobody," said a girl in a T-shirt that said Buggin'. "Cop just stopped me."

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