George Saunders Short Stories

George Saunders is one of the most popular modern short story writers. He is known for satirical stories with elements of sci-fi or fantasy. He often writes about discontented and alienated people.


A father has a pole in his yard that he dresses according to the occasion.

This one is very short. (Summary & Analysis)

It’s the second story in the preview of Tenth of December: Stories.

“Victory Lap”

Alison Pope, a teenager, daydreams about turning down potential suitors. She looks down on the boy next door, Kyle, whom she used to hang out with as a kid. There is a knock at Alison’s back door. Meanwhile, Kyle, who lives in a regimented household, comes home and finds the chore that’s been left for him. Eventually, he notices a van pull up outside.

This is the first story in the preview of Tenth of December: Stories.

“Escape from Spiderhead”

Jeff is an inmate at Spiderhead, a research facility. Along with others, he tests drugs that affect his speech, perception, and feelings for people. He’s there because of a fateful day from his past.


A man, Mikey, returns home. The place is untidy, his Ma is watching her language because she works at a church now, and she’s living with a new man, Harris, who is unemployed. Mikey had done something while away that got him in trouble. He visits his dysfunctional family.


Jon lives in a research facility with other young people. They test the marketability of products. Jon has a relationship with Carolyn that makes them think about their futures with the company.


Marie is a mother who likes bringing home various animals. Her husband, Robert, just accepts the new guests. Her son, Josh, has a behavioral problem but he is distracted with a new video game. Callie is also a mother with a son, Bo, who is uncontrollable. She is selling a puppy so her husband, Jimmy, won’t have to kill it.

“The Red Bow”

A young girl is killed by dogs. Some men in the village look for the dogs and shoot them. They turn their attention to other dogs that might also be dangerous. Their enthusiasm for making the village safe gets out of hand.

“Sea Oak”

The narrator is a waiter/stripper at a restaurant for women. He lives in a subsidized apartment with his sister, Min; his cousin, Jade; and his aunt, Bernie. Min and Jade also have babies. They don’t have much and they live in a bad area. The narrator gets a panicked call from Min while he’s at work.

Read “Sea Oak”

“The Semplica-Girl Diaries”

A forty-year-old father of three girls starts a diary to inform future readers how life is in the present. He chronicles the events leading up to the thirteenth birthday party of his oldest daughter, Lilly. The family is middle-class, but they live beyond their means. The father wants to buy his daughter an expensive present, and also wants a status symbol to show off to the neighbors.

“Tenth of December”

A young boy, Robin, gets his pellet gun and goes on a rescue mission. He suspects the Nethers, a species he’s had previous run-ins with, of kidnapping a classmate of his, Suzanne. Robin comes across a coat, still warm inside, on a bench. He sees a thin, older man in the distance, walking off in the cold. Robin knows something is wrong. He changes his mission.