Recently fellow Lichtenbergian Daniel gave me a copy of George Saunders’ The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.
Do not even read the rest of this. Go buy a copy now.
It’s only 130 pages long, and the pages are small, but you will not be able to read it in one setting. It will gut-punch you over and over, with the the beauty of its writing and the horror of its prescience. You will have to stop to let your soul absorb the shock.
It was published in 2005, but it could easily have been published on Nov 9, 2016. The rapid and easy rise of the evil, hate-driven megalomaniac Phil gives you a sickening jolt of familiarity, even as Saunders’ loopy and surreal subworld creation leaves your brain scrambling to reconfigure its comprehension of what it’s seeing. Trust me, it’s weird and wonderful.
The premise is simple: in the midst of the country of Outer Horner, there exists the country of Inner Horner, a country so small that only one of its citizens can live in it at a time. The other six citizens have to huddle in the Short-Term Residency Zone right outside, surrounded by the unfriendly Outer Horner. Spurred by an unrequited love of Inner Hornerite Carol, the odious Phil jacks up his fellow Outer Hornerians to suspect, tax, and eventually disassemble the hapless minority.
And then Phil’s brain slips out of its rack.
Trust me. You want to read this. (There is a website, of course.)