“Night was falling. Birds were singing. Birds were, it occurred to me to say, enacting a frantic celebration of day’s end. They were manifesting as the earth’s bright-colored nerve endings, the sun’s descent urging them into activity, filling them individually with life nectar, the life nectar then being passed into the world, out of each beak, in the form of that bird’s distinctive song, which was, in turn, an accident of beak shape, throat shape, breast configuration, brain chemistry: some birds blessed in voice, others cursed; some squeaking, others rapturous.”

GEORGE SAUNDERS, “Escape from Spiderhead”

“Escape from Spiderhead” appears in George Saunders‘ collection TENTH OF DECEMBER (Random House, 2013). Find the book at


“Not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny.”  Zadie Smith

“George Saunders makes the all-but-impossible look effortless. We’re lucky to have him.” Jonathan Franzen

“An astoundingly tuned voice—graceful, dark, authentic, and funny—telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times.” Thomas Pynchon 

Illustration: “Birds at sunset,” watercolor by Linzy Arnott. Visit Linzy at