The title of George Saunders' not-that-recent most-recent collection of essays, The Braindead Megaphone, refers to a party-crasher in a metaphor for our national discourse. Everyone at this metaphorical party is having reasonable conversations, sharing experiences and weighing contrary opinions, when someone shows up and starts shouting generic statements into a megaphone. The statements are designed to do little but hold the attention of the crowd. They succeed, and soon all the interesting conversation has been supplanted. Saunders published Megaphone, his first non-fiction work, in 2007 -- a year after he won a MacArthur Genius Grant -- and his keen observations on media, politics and personal struggles seem more prescient by the day. His fiction, often featuring heroes clinging to decency in dystopian near-futures, benefits from the same foresight. Now a professor at Syracuse University, Saunders will be visiting Washington University's Whitaker Hall Auditorium (Forsyth and Skinker Boulevards; 314-935-5190 or www.english.artsci.wustl.edu) at 6 p.m. to read from his work. A free reception and book signing will follow.
Thu., March 29, 2012