Lincoln in the Bardo


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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."- ...

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Nicolette B

Jan 31, 2019

blew my mind.

I imagine that this novel isn't for everyone, as the format and storytelling style is very unusual. In fact, everything about it is unusual. It's written as a series of quotes or speeches from people, and many of them seem to be authentic historical quotes from hundreds of years ago. It took me a little while to adjust to the very strange format, but soon I was letting each character have their moment without much concern for knowing who they are and what's going on. I was imagining a Greek chorus, with individual characters stepping forward to speak their minds one at a time. I stuck with it, and WOW. A story unfolded, with twists and turns and mythology. This novel is brilliant. It breaks all the rules of fiction. It contains multitudes. It's tragic and poignant and profound. It's incredibly creative. There is nothing like it at all. I recommend reading it with no knowledge of what it is about and letting it unfold. Incredible.

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