As a shameless Saunders fangirl, I could pick a dozen of his as my anthology. I accept that perhaps he’s written one too many dysfunctional-theme-park stories, but to me he is The Master. Stumbling across ‘Sea Oak’ changed my writing life, while ‘My Flamboyant Grandson’ and ‘The 400lb CEO’ manage to feature exquisite moments of human feeling too complex to name… then there’s the perfect ‘Home’, so full of taut bitterness… Oh, George. After much agonising I’ve chosen ‘The Red Bow’ as the exemplar. It has everything: a just off-real scenario, perfect character motivation-action-reaction, fantastic dialogue, and that dark-tender humour he does like no one else.
First published in Esquire, September 2003 and available to read online here. Collected in In Persuasion Nation, Riverhead Books/Bloomsbury, 2006