In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any otherfor no one but Saunders could conceive it.February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincolns beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. My poor boy, he was too good for this earth, the president says at the time. God has called him home. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boys body.From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional statecalled, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardoa monumental struggle erupts over young Willies soul.Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fictions ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voicesliving and dead, historical and inventedto ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?...
|Title||:||Lincoln in the Bardo|
|Number of Pages||:||343 pages|
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Lincoln in the Bardo Reviews
Update: Booker Prize Winner 2017, a well deserved win for this excellent novel!
I came upon Lincoln in the Bardo as someone comes upon a house on fire—tentatively. Placing a hand to the embossed dust jacket and turning deckle-edged pages at random filled me with the sphincter-tightening dread, which I have previously equated to looking down at the earth from a significant height. It seemed as if the book were more screenplay than proper novel, and I had no interest in dawdling amidst incomprehens ...more
The form of this novel is what readers will notice first. It begins as a series of quotes from reporters’ notebooks, eyewitness accounts, historians using original sources, and we must assume, Civil War-era gossip rags, describing an 1862 White House party which a thousand or more people attended. To say the affair was elaborate understates the case. Apparently when a thousand hungry guests descended on the tables of food, the quantity was such that it looked untouched after the assault.
Some of ...more
I should have known. I really don't do well with the avant garde. I want a plot, I want a story. I want character development. This offers none of the above. I felt lost. Vague memories of Ionesco and Beckett kept cropping up as I tried to plough through this. The book alternates between reading like a thesis, full of quotes from “other” sources and then almost more like a play. Ghosts come and ghosts go. They each have their own little mini-story but there is little continuity. Some ghosts appe ...more
One of my great passions in life is reading – and reviewing – books. But how to review this book? It renders me speechless and. I almost feel compelled to reduce my review to two words: “Read it.”
Years ago, I learned, while visiting the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, that Abraham Lincoln was so prostrated by grief after the death of his favorite son Willie that he visited the crypt for months afterwards, opening the coffin and stroking the face and hair of his deceased son. It’s a maca ...more
This is an intriguing book; one that is very inventive and yet its basic premise is based on strong possibilities, if not probabilities. There are brief historical excerpts throughout from various sources that are amazing in that they outline stronger than ever that “eye witness” testimony is pretty much wasted without a camera to back it up. For example, on a historically memorable night 5 or 10 people can look at the same night sky and see no moon at all, or a moon – but in about 5 or 6 differ ...more
This was one of the most unusual books I have ever read! I think it is what you would have to describe as a reading experience since it is told in multiple voices aided by constant footnotes attributing the text to its sources. So clever! And so much research. The author must have become a real expert on Abraham Lincoln by the time he finished writing.
Amazingly the whole fascinating book takes place over one night immediately after Lincoln's young son's funeral. Lincoln makes a last visit to his ...more
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.
What a painfully boring book. 166 narrators chiming in and overlapping in a story that seems so random and disconnected for the most part. It might be deep, and it might be clever, but if there isn't the barest spark of something to make you care what's on the next page - then why even bother turning it?
I gave up at 35%. Life is way too short.