“I’d make the case that the whole fictional thrill has to do with this idea of the reader and the writer closely tracking, if you will. Like one of those motorcycle sidecars: when the writer leans left, the reader does too. You don’t want your reader three blocks away, unaware that you are leaning. You want her right there with you, so that even an added comma makes a difference. And I think building that motorcycle has to do with that very odd moment when the writer “imagines” his reader—i.e., imagines where the reader “is” at that precise point in the story. This is more of a feeling thing than an analytical thing, but all that is good about fiction depends on this extrapolation. Which is pretty insane, when you think of it. The writer, in order to proceed, is theoretically trying to predict where his complex skein of language and image has left his reader, who he has likely never met and who is actually thousands of readers. Yikes!” — George Saunders, on writing.
I’m also like 90% positive that I hung out with the interviewer, Patrick Dacey, at Syracuse. The name is familiar and the memories are a bit hazy, but I think we ran in similar circles.
Anyways, I had Saunders for a class and yeah, he’s a damn fine writer and teacher. Start with Pastoralia and work your way from there.