The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

George Saunders

Off the Bookshelf

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

by George Saunders

illustrated by Lane Smith

Villard, 84 pp., $23.95

George Saunders possesses one of the most fertile and twisted imaginations in American letters, so it should come as no surprise that, with his latest book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, he has turned his talents to children's literature. The story recounts the sorry fortune of the small seaside village of Frip, whose goats are set upon by the titular Gappers, baseball-sized orange critters from the sea. Saunders' heroine, a little girl named Capable, must lead the people of Frip to live outside their narrowly circumscribed, goat-milking lives by learning how to fish. Without invoking the old "a story for children of all ages" cliché, the book is perfectly suitable for actual kids while containing plenty for Saunders fans accustomed to stories about raccoon-slaying office malcontents and amusement parks where the staff dress as cavemen. Persistent Gappers is essentially a parable about luck and chance and the resentments that come to those who have been crapped on by the cosmos.

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