George Saunders on his selection:
There are a few passages in literature that I go back to whenever I'm feeling out of touch with something I know to be true, namely that the whole point of life (even, and especially, during a pandemic) is to get more loving, more tender. As Tolstoy wrote, "Men think there are circumstances when one may deal with human beings without love. But there are no such circumstances...If you feel no love, sit still. Occupy yourself with things, with yourself, with anything you like, only not with men." One of my favorite "tenderizing" passages is from Gogol's great story, "The Overcoat," and it describes the life of one Akakii Akakievich, a lowly St. Petersburg functionary.
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