George Saunders: American psyche

Some of my wimpy, anti-hunting friends claim that hunting is cruel. I don't consider hunting cruel as long as the hunter fully uses whatever he kills. Take my friend Max. Max is a purist. When he hunts, he eats the meat, wears the fur. He makes soap from the bones, grease from the fat, scary headdresses from the teeth; if the thing has horns, he makes hat-racks out of the horns; if it has hooves, he makes those weird hoof-ashtrays; if he's hunting turtles, he makes a helmet out of the turtleshell, then wanders around town in his turtleshell helmet, selling his bone soup and animal fur grease, then comes home, wearily hangs his turtleshell-helmet on his horn-hat-rack, collapses on to his hippo-torso sofa and lights up a cigar, the ashes of which he drops into the hoof-ashtray.

When Max gets invited to the Oscars, he kills a penguin and wears the skin. On Halloween, if dressing as a Playboy bunny, he kills a real bunny and wears the ears and tail. At Christmas, when dressing as Santa, he'll go to the mall and kill their Santa Claus. But even then he's a purist - after killing the mall Santa, he takes the guy's money from his wallet and runs up the guy's credit cards, and he takes the guy's shoes and makes gloves out of them, and he takes the guy's gloves and fries and eats them.

Max makes fun of me for being such a "city boy" - buying pre-processed food, wearing sissified clothes made by exploited third world garment workers, renting my Playboy bunny and/or Santa Claus costumes from a costume shop, buying my car from a "car dealership". Max, of course, gets his cars the natural way - he builds them from scratch, by mining all of the raw metals and synthesising the various polymers in his basement lab. It takes a lot of time to build a car from scratch in your basement. Especially when you live in a cave with no basement, as Max does.

I've been over there a couple of times for dinner - it's not much fun. For one, it's a tiny cave, crowded with hat-racks and hoof-ashtrays and hippo-sofas and turtleshell helmets and bunny furs and mall-Santa corpses. Also, Max has a TV, but if you want to watch a movie after dinner, "Mr Pure" insists on making the movie himself. So first he has to fly out to Hollywood and kill a film crew and steal their equipment and abduct a bunch of actors, which means he either has to build the plane from scratch or find a huge prehistoric bird going to California and hitch a ride on its back.

So by the time he gets back, it may be two or three in the morning and I have to go to work the next day.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.