The Five Best Parts of George Saunders' The Braindead Megaphone

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  1. "Earlier today, almost forty years after it was written, and in the middle of another war, I sat in my kitchen reading Slaughterhouse Five. The book didn't stop the current war, and won't stop the next one, or the one after that. But something in me rose to the truth in it, and I was put in proper relation to the war going on now. I was, if you will, forbidden to misunderstand it." from "Mr. Vonnegut in Sumatra"
  2. "I'd understood the function of art to be primarily descriptive: a book was a kind of scale model of life, intended to make the reader feel and hear and taste and think just what the writer had. Now I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters. He enters in one state of mind and exits in another. The writer gets no points just because what's inside the box bears some linear resemblance to "real life"--he can put whatever he wants in there. What's important is that something undeniable and nontrivial happens to the reader between entry and exit." ibid
  3. "Huck Finn is a great book because it tells the truth about the human condition in a way that delights us. It is a great work of our national literature because, more than any book before or since, it locates itself squarely on our National Dilemma, which is: How can anyone be truly free in a country as violent and stupid as ours? The book still lives, because the question does."  from "The United States of Huck"
  4. "Working with language is a means by which we can identify the bullshit within ourselves (and others). If we learn what a truthful sentence looks like, a little flag goes up at a false one." from "Thank you, Esther Forbes" 
  5. Everything else.