Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

A Novel

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
59
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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 Lincoln's 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 returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy's 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 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 state--called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo--a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie's soul.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2017
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780812995343
Characteristics: 341 p. ; 25 cm

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Nanabelle_5
Apr 15, 2018

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peggysnorf
Apr 12, 2018

Awful book.

j
JANET FLAPAN
Apr 07, 2018

Stick with it, the structure can be confusing but it's so original and creative. I loved it and think it will inspire other writers to try new ideas. Based partly on history and partly on philosophy and Eastern religious ideas.

s
smbeust
Apr 02, 2018

I loved this book. It reminds me of one of my favorites, by Sherri Reynolds, "A Gracious Plenty". I have always loved ghost stories since being very young, but these two books about people who are talking to one another in their cemeteries, fascinate me.

m
maggie0287
Mar 22, 2018

I was excited to finally get this book after reading all the hype, and was sorely disappointed. The story is incredibly disjointed, jumping between snippets from publications and fictional characters within the book, often without any import and always without punctuation. I could not get into the story or the characters, and after about a 90 minutes of reading I resorted to skimming to just get through it.

j
JAL49
Mar 21, 2018

I recommend listening to the audio of this book before reading it. With the audio you begin to understand much more quickly who is speaking and what the tone of the story is. Some of the more experimental aspects of the book on the page (lack of punctuation, lack of identification of who is speaking) are less distracting, and the narrative is more navigable. I absolutely loved this book once I relaxed and let what was mysterious about it (why are these people stuck in this place? are these real quotations from real journals?) unfold at its own pace. Saunders is not afraid to sail into unchartered waters in terms of storytelling. If you're willing to sail alongside him, you'll ultimately find his story to be heart-wrenching and beautiful, though not conventional. The confusion you sometimes experience is the confusion of the characters, too - you sometimes ask, as they do, "What is happening here?" You'll either find it unnerving or exciting.

e
Einer2
Mar 21, 2018

I really wanted to like this book but found it too choppy especially in the audio version (I tried both print and audio)-too many great books to spend time trying to get this one.

martins_mom Feb 26, 2018

This is one curious and original piece of fiction. I listened to the audiobook version, which is an excellent production, and makes all the many various voices very distinguishable.
And if you haven’t looked up ‘bardo’ yet, it is a term from Tibetan Buddhism meaning “the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth”.

l
legadillo
Feb 22, 2018

I'm not a fan of experimental punctuation, but about a third of the way into the book, I got the rhythm of it and I think it works.

m
MiriamS12345
Feb 21, 2018

Disjointed, artsy, meaningless. I was listening to this book on CD and gave up after one disk.

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