Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
33
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On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body.
Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780812995343
0812995341
Branch Call Number: F SAU
Characteristics: 341 pages ; 24 cm

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b
becker
Sep 13, 2017

This book was incredibly unique, well written and poignant. I am so glad to have read it. Despite this, it is a difficult book to recommend. Or perhaps I just don't know where to begin to explain it. The story itself is simple and sad. It is a story of the grief Lincoln experiences when his young son dies. It's the telling of the story that is interesting and unusual. Told through the many voices of the souls in the crypt where the boy lays. If you appreciate the work of George Saunders or if you are curious to read something with a unique and creative format, this book will not disappoint you.

l
ladiablesse
Sep 04, 2017

As other commentators have weighed in, this is a book that divides readers. I had listened to Saunders in interview and was captivated by his reading of a brief section at the beginning, in the voice of one of his main narrators. So I had a lot of anticipation going in... The Spoon River Anthology analogy is very apt, and if approached more as script than novel, per se, the book does gain in emotional impact.
Like another reader, I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I found the real and fictionalized references somewhat distracting and cumbersome, hindering what was a meandering story to mid-point. And the concentrated focus on men and male grief seemed somewhat claustrophobic by the end. Inventive, yes, clever, without a doubt. But I felt its cleverness and scholarship, and like most children, I'd rather not have a magician disclose their tricks.

y
yesucan
Aug 26, 2017

I really wanted to like this book, but I found it so confusing. Hated the way the story is told and just did not enjoy it!

w
WCLSDemingLibrary
Aug 05, 2017

The way the particular Bardo of the book and all its dimensions are slowly revealed, and the characters whose stories I learn through their own confused/illusive/wandering/clear voices = an amazing feat of writing and spirit and magic. Heart, hilarity, and history. Longing and levity. I so highly recommend this book. (Now on the long list for the 2017 Man Booker prize.)

athompson10 Aug 05, 2017

Brilliant, creative, loved it. A worthy Man Booker nominee.

l
lukasevansherman
Aug 01, 2017

Well, I kinda hated his short stories and I kinda hated this novel, which about Lincoln's dead son or something. In Tibetan Buddhism, bardo is the period of existence between death and rebirth. Huh.

s
sevenup
Jul 20, 2017

I really loved this book. Of course, I love anything that Saunders writes. At first, I was really thrown off by the narrative style, but once I got accustomed to it (It's similar to a chorus in a play), I was off and running.

Saunders' writing always shows so much insight into human nature, both good and bad. This book made me laugh, and also moved me to being near tears.

HMWLibrary2017 Jul 14, 2017

I work in a bookstore and tell people I recommend "Lincoln in the Bardo" to that they should read the first few chapters with a fully open mind, and then when they've figured out what's going on to go back to the beginning and start again. That's what I did and ended up loving this book. It's clever (but not in a pretentious way as some have suggested). It's also funny, sad, tender and very very entertaining. It might take you a couple tries to get fully into it, but once you do, you won't be able to put it down.

k
kountzcl
Jul 10, 2017

A rewarding reading experience, esp. for fans of Lincoln. The events felt completely real while I was engaged in this book. A valuable companion book is Garry Wills's Lincoln at Gettysburg (nonfiction, 1992) with a chapter on Gettysburg and the Victorian culture of death.

p
peacebenow
Jul 08, 2017

I read 1/3 of this book and gave up. It is a ball of confusion. Once I figured out who these people were, I didn't really care about them except for Lincoln's son but most of the other dead did the talking. It went from ok to just not my cup of tea.

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