CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Preface

George Saunders:

We managed to buy a house. It was small but sweet, and the four of us lived there, happily. What a thing it was, to suddenly have a real life happening to us, to be in over our heads but glad about it. The gratitude I was feeling nudged me to the edge of a thought precipice: Had others, loving this much, had it go wrong? Did that ever happen?

And I knew the answer was yes, of course, all the time, every day.

Which raised a second question, one that I now see as being at the heart of this book: Why is the world so harsh to those who are losing? Sensing how close we were to the edge financially (we lived check to check, were running up huge credit card debt), feeling ourselves bringing up the back of the pack in terms of what kind of life we were making for our daughters relative to the lives of their peers, I realized for the first time, in my gut, how harsh life could be and how little it cared if someone failed.