Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Large Print - 2017
Average Rating:
31
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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 a story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its 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: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, 2017
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781410497475 (hardcover ; large print)
141049747X (hardcover ; large print)
Branch Call Number: LP FIC SAUNDERS
Characteristics: 475 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
large print,rda

Opinion

From Library Staff

Eerie, beautiful & a straight shot to the heart. An historical novel set in the time of American Civil War, a ghost story like you’ve never read before - and a tale of love, loss, grief, and redemption.


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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.)

a
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.

h
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.

LPL_MeredithW Jul 08, 2017

You've probably heard this book described as odd, sad, compelling, beautifully written - all of those are true! A description you might not have heard yet: page-turning. Reader, I sobbed.

m
MplsTA
Jul 04, 2017

The story regarding Lincoln's beloved son is so sad and his grief unbearable. Although I enjoyed the historical quotes and reading about that time in history, it was just too sad for me to finish. I wouldn't call this book dark but more melancholy. The writing reminds me of how one would write about a dream (a bad, upsetting one).

c
Candaceb108
Jun 29, 2017

A big meh. Every time someone changes a format they are called a genius. And sometimes people garner tremendous acclaim because no one wants to admit that they see a naked emperor. Like Donna Tartt's The Gold Finch, Saunder's Lincoln In The Bardo is one of these. The format is not difficult. The content and context are not difficult. I'm of an age when I think a lot about 'what happens after', 'how will my actions be held to account'. The themes in the ridicule and satire are trite as hell.

For me the point of any creation of art is to touch us, help us feel. It could be with the familiar, could be with the unconsidered, could be with any emotion. Lincoln In The Bardo does none of these things, at all.

Well, I guess you can say you read it at the next cocktail party.

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