Lincoln in the Bardo – a review

This book is terrible.

It won the Man Booker Prize. All kinds of critics love it.

The audio version slightly better. But one hundred and sixty-six individual narrators (led by Nick Offerman & David Sedaris) still couldn’t make it either interesting or understandable.

The most popular review on GoodReads:

I really tried, but listening to this book is impossible. I want to appreciate the voices, the story, but I can’t get past the format. Like wading through footnotes. Is it possible to ignore the format when you READ it? About to throw in the towel and get a refund.

The most popular critical review on Amazon:

The style was original but tedious. The various voices, very truncated at times and others long …

I was comparing Dostoyevsky’s far superior and adventurous novella Bobok where the decaying corpses quarrel and grumble and a sharp and memorable view of Russian society emerges. This book is not memorable save for its unrelenting tedium.

George Saunders has long been accepted as one of the masters of the American short story.

In this, his first novel, the Lincoln trapped in the bardo is Willie, the cherished 11-year-old son of the great civil war president.

As his parents host a lavish state reception, their boy is upstairs in the throes of typhoid fever. Saunders quotes contemporary observers on the magnificence of the feast, trailing the terrible family tragedy that is unfolding. Sure enough, Willie dies and is taken to Oak Hill cemetery, where he is interred in a marble crypt. On at least two occasions – and this is the germ of historical fact from which Saunders has spun his extraordinary story – the president visits the crypt at night, where he sits over the body and mourns.

The cemetery is populated by a teeming horde of spirits – dead people who, for reasons that become an important part of the narrative …

NY Times review 

I switched to low brow Hard Luck Hank comedy SciFi books.

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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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