Our first daughter is born. Life goes crazy, in a good way. Artistically, I continue to lose the magic, writing stories in which I am sort of like Nick Adams, but in Sumatra, Indonesia. The guy in the story is a thinly veiled version of me, when I was in the oil business, if I had been more like Nick Adams. Get it? I am not so crass as to name myself “Nick.” Instead I name myself “Casey.” Or, sometimes, when I am really off my game, “Vic.” Once, in a very confused moment, I am “Bernard Casey.” Casey / Vic / Bernard Casey is always silently witnessing petty and / or decadent cruelties, then eventually participating in them himself, because our times are so rotten and we are such a—well, not a “lost” generation, but more like a sort of “drifty” generation. Anyway, at the end of my stories, Casey/Vic/Bernard Casey, having done something naughty, will often broodingly go off to stand by a river, to feel miserable and think a line that is like an epiphany. Sometimes something in the natural world might metaphorically mimic Vic’s mental state:
Vic thought of the Indonesian village he had just accidentally burned down while goofing around. He felt bad. His spirits drooped, there on the banks of the river.
In the river an elephant’s trunk drooped.
This story might be called, for example: “On the Dark Banks of the Tragic Sad River.”
From My Writing Education: A Timeline. George Saunders writes with such humanity and self-effacement.