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Lincoln in the bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the bardo (original 2017; edition 2017)

by George Saunders

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2,5601803,454 (4.01)318
Title:Lincoln in the bardo
Authors:George Saunders
Info:London : Bloomsbury, 2017.
Collections:Your library
Tags:death, historical, American civil war, ghosts, magical realism

Work details

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (2017)


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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.

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 fiction's 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 voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?
  Glacierhills1200 | Dec 9, 2018 |
I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I quite enjoy saying that a book was unlike any other book I've read, and it never gets old, and this was one such. ( )
  Ubiquitine | Nov 24, 2018 |
-- LINCOLN IN THE BARDO is a play/historical fiction/research paper hybrid. If I had known from page one a sick box is a coffin & all characters (except Pres. & Mrs. Lincoln & watchmen) are dead story would have been more comprehensible. Many pages contain blank space so novel reads quickly. I'll turn to whodunit author Margaret Truman for my Washington, D.C. fiction fixes. -- ( )
  MinaIsham | Nov 19, 2018 |
The book is like riding on the Haunted House Disney ride and Presidents Show at the same time. I thoroughly was entertained, found the juxtaposition of President Lincoln's grief and the curiously bizarre "sick" in the cemetery quite amusing and introspective as they deal with regret and retrospection. Willie's innocence yet being kept/"punished" because of his loyalty and love for his father has the redemption resolution one would expect. I would like to "sit with" this ( )
  kglattstein | Nov 6, 2018 |
The audiobook is really impressive. Full cast and extraordinarily well put together.

I enjoyed the book though the long possibly made up quotes around Lincoln really slowed things down. ( )
  gregrr | Oct 30, 2018 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saunders, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bachman, Barbara MDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brownstein, CarrieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cardinal, ChelseaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cheadle, DonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dennings, KatNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dughet, HaspardJoint Cover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunham, LenaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hader, BillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
July, Miranda Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karr, MaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Offerman, NickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pye, Johnsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sedaris, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stiller, BenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, E.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Caitlin and Alena
First words
On our wedding day I was forty-six, she was eighteen.
I will never forget those solemn moments—genius and greatness weeping over the love's lost idol.
Having never loved or been loved in that previous place, they were frozen here in a youthful state of perpetual emotional vacuity; interested only in freedom, profligacy, and high-jinks, railing against any limitation or commitment whatsoever.
In truth, we were bored, so very bored, so continually bored.
Birds being distrustful of our ilk.
Any admiration we might once have felt for their endurance had long since devolved into revulsion.
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Haiku summary
Unread I hold it,
a new Saunders book is come.
My evening expands.

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From the seed of historical truth that is the death of President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son Willie, George Saunders spins a "story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm ... 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"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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