George Saunders: ASME Award Finalist

Genius satirist George Saunders is by no means new to awards. With both the MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim Fellowships under his belt, it comes as no surprise that Saunders’ short story, “Victory Lap,” which is about the kidnapping of a teenage girl, grabbed a nod for ASME’s 2010 National Magazine Awards in its fiction category yesterday. Originally published in The New Yorker on October 5th, 2009, the story toys with perspective, channeling the voices of three distinctive characters.

There is almost-fifteen-year-old Alison Pope, who casts aside the neighborhood boys for their silly blips of nerves (“Had he said, Let us go stand on the moon? If so, she would have to be like, {eyebrows up}. And if no wry acknowledgment was forthcoming, be like, Uh, I am not exactly dressed for standing on the moon, which, as I understand it, is super cold?”). Like most almost-fifteen-year-olds, she finds herself special (but not when compared to Mother Teresa or Helen Keller), and uses any excuse to insert her newly-learned French phrases into daily speech.

Kyle comes from a pair of obsessive compulsive parents who measure his accomplishments with a point system that grants promises of extra yogurt covered raisins and television time. Overbearing parental eyes have given him a Tourettes-like way with swearing — but his aggressive vocabulary remains in-head only. And since this suburbia is numbingly mundane, when Kyle witnesses a man who ends up being a rapist enter Alison’s house, his initial thoughts are “Nothing had ever been weird around here before. So probably it was fine.”

The twisted mind of the rapist is disjointed. He thinks in short, brash sentences that focus on taking revenge and his next plan of action. “Was this a good time? To give her one in the gut, knock the wind out of her sails? It was. He did.”

Read the full story here. Be sure to keep April 22nd in mind, when the ASME winners will be announced.