So, I don't remember the last time I wrote about George Saunders for any reason in particular. I seem to FIND reasons, generally speaking, even when he's not exactly the central subject matter. I find his story writing so fascinating, though. There's so much to learn from him just by his opening sentences, for example. I'm a firm believer in the first sentence. You gotta write a good one. You gotta write a good story, but a good story can very much start on the wrong foot if the first sentence is bungled. And for my money, nobody writing today does them better than George Saunders.
I'm also interested in the, I think, Hunter S. Thompson system of writing the writing of good writers for yourself, just to get a taste of how it feels to write it. I've handwritten in my weird journal the first sentences of all the stories in Civilwarland in Bad Decline. I'm now going to type them out here. Take a look. See if you see what I mean. Feel free to disagree. Plenty of people do, and often!
"Whenever a potential big investor comes for the tour the first thing I do is take him out to the transplanted Erie Canal Lock."
"The first great act of love I ever witnessed was Split Lip bathing his handicapped daughter."
"Halfway up the mountain it's the Center for Wayward Nuns, full of sisters and other religious personnel who've become doubtful."
"At noon another load of raccoons comes in and Claude takes them out back of the office and executes them."
"Elizabeth always thought the fake stream running through our complex was tacky."
"My first and favorite task of the day is slaving over the Iliana Evermore Fairy Castle."
"Tonight at last the nation votes."