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Story Review: Jon by George Saunders

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The setting will take us into a world ruled by consumerism, wherein an advertising facility houses teenagers, whose reality is based on their brain-implanted advertisement chips. The teenagers’ main existence is based on consuming, grading, and imaging consumer products. They are fed with a daily dose of soothing drugs, treated like celebrities with trading cards and billboards, and they never wear anything generic.

And though I had many times seen LI34321 for Honey Grahams, where the stream of milk and the stream of honey enjoin to make that river of sweet-tasting goodness, I did not know that, upon making love, one person may become like the milk and the other like the honey…

George Saunders created a life-like plot that is both disturbing and plausible. The story, I have to conclude, is a commentary on our present and adulterated consumer culture. The facility mentioned is an organized system that provides a higher level of professional consumer product assessment than we have today. Direct stimulation can be accessed through the teenagers’ brain chips. Their general outlook on life is based merely on commercials, and their speech and language are for limited applications only. The chips once removed, hosts will experience physical and intellectual deformation.

Plus furthermore (and I said this to Carolyn) what will it be like for us when all has been taken from us?  Of what will we speak of? I do not want to only speak of my love in grunts!  If I wish to compare my love to a love I have previous knowledge of, I do not want to stand there in the wind casting about for my metaphor!

The situation prevailing centers on teenagers Jon and Coralyn, both raised in the said facility, who coupled and soon to have a child. Their relationship created poignancy where Saunders encourages his readers to make certain evaluations on how consumerism created ridiculously satisfied consumers out of human beings. The great strain is between what Jon and Carolyn’s love dictates them to do and what comforts consumerism urges them to reap in terms of allegiance.

Looking out, I saw no walls and no rug and no ceiling, only lawn and flowers, and above that a wide black sky with stars, which all of that made me a bit dizzy, there being no glass between me and it.

And I don’t know, it is one thing to look out a window, but when you are Out, actually Out, that is something very powerful…

JON is such a short name for a huge concept. It is quite mind-boggling to assimilate. It tells us that living is not based on wants and being persuaded to be dependent on those wants; but in recognizing the essence of contentment in simplicity. Saunders appeals not only to our resistant being to remain fortified against the pull of self-satisfaction and consumerism, but also to widely open the windows to experience love.

 Published as the 3rd story from In Persuasion Nation

Rating: 4/5 stars

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