george saunders favorite short stories

Illustration: Thomas Allen

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Because Short Stories Are "Meaning Machines"
Recently, a friend said to me, "Hey, George, if a space alien beamed you up to his ship and demanded that you explain what being human is like, what would you say?"

"Well," I said, "I'd advise the alien to spend a few days reading short stories." Short stories are the deep, encoded crystallizations of all human knowledge. They are rarefied, dense meaning machines, shedding light on the most pressing of life's dilemmas. By reading a thoughtfully selected set of them, our alien could, in a few hours, learn everything he needs to know about the way we live.
—George Saunders, author of the award-winning short-story collection Tenth of December and, most recently, Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

Read the rest of George Saunders' essay on his favorite short stories