Read pdf Lincoln in the BardoAuthor George Saunders –

The Extraordinary First Novel By The Bestselling, Folio Prize Winning, National Book Award Shortlisted George Saunders, About Abraham Lincoln And The Death Of His Eleven Year Old Son, Willie, At The Dawn Of The Civil War February The American Civil War Rages While President Lincoln S Beloved Eleven Year Old Son Lies Gravely Ill In A Matter Of Days, Willie Dies And Is Laid To Rest In A Georgetown Cemetery Newspapers Report That A Grief Stricken Lincoln Returns To The Crypt Several Times Alone To Hold His Boy S Body From This Seed Of Historical Truth, George Saunders Spins An Unforgettable Story Of Familial Love And Loss That Breaks Free Of Realism, Entering A Thrilling, Supernatural Domain Both Hilarious And Terrifying Willie Lincoln Finds Himself Trapped In A Strange Purgatory Called, In Tibetan Tradition, The Bardo Invisible To His Father, Bowed At The Tomb Within This Transitional Realm, Where Ghosts Mingle, Squabble, Gripe And Commiserate, And Stony Tendrils Creep Towards The Boy, A Monumental Struggle Erupts Over Young Willie S Soul Unfolding Over A Single Night, Lincoln In The Bardo Is Written With George Saunders Inimitable Humour, Pathos And Grace Here He Invents An Exhilarating New Form, And Is Confirmed As One Of The Most Important And Influential Writers Of His Generation Deploying A Theatrical, Kaleidoscopic Panoply Of Voices Living And Dead, Historical And Fictional Lincoln In The Bardo Poses A Timeless Question How Do We Live And Love When We Know That Everything We Hold Dear Must End

10 thoughts on “Lincoln in the Bardo

  1. says:

    I should have known I really don t do well with the avant garde I want a plot, I want a story I want character development This offers none of the above I felt lost Vague memories of Ionesco and Beckett kept cropping up as I tried to plough through this The book alternates between reading like a thesis, full of quotes from other sources and then almost like a play Ghosts come and ghosts go They each have their own little mini story but there is little continuity Some ghosts appear often Blevins and Vollman act as narrators, moving the meager story forward The Rev Thomas provides a glimpse of a sort of Revelations style individual reckoning There are sections that are enticing or interesting But they are small glimpses of jewels I am clearly in the minority here All the wonderful reviews had me doubting myself But in the long run, reading is all about pleasure And this book brought me very little of that.

  2. says:

    It s a beautiful and sad but a strangely told story, and the narrative is different from anything I ve read The back of the cover description tells a poignant detail about Lincoln which Saunders in the QA tells us was the thought that formed for him the heart of this story At the time of his 11 year old son Willie s death by typhoid fever, it was reported that Lincoln went to the crypt at night to hold his son s body The grief that one can almost feel in that image is the essence of this book and has been fully and imaginatively depicted The grief this book is so filled with Lincoln s grief, it will break your heart While this is told in such a unique way, it took me only a few pages to be pulled in But the grief became overwhelming at times and I had to put it down for a break once in a while The first thing I did before I decided to read this book was look up the definition of bardo in Tibetan Buddhism a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person s conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death English Oxford Dictionary I m glad I did because most of this mixed narrative is comprised of the voices of the dead including Willie who are in the bardo These conversations are interspersed with excerpts from historical texts mainly describing how they saw Lincoln suffering this tremendous loss, and as mentioned in the Q A with Saunders, some of the excerpts are imagined It s impossible to tell which are real and which are created as I read them I decided not to look them up but to accept Saunders creative license This is a novel, albeit not a straightforward telling I thought it was a fascinating way to tell the story not just of the death of Willie but it is in many ways a commentary on the man who was president during a trying time in our history, a commentary on the time, but also on life and death I recommend this to those who are open to something very different and very moving.I received an ARC of this book from Random House

  3. says:

    The rich notes of the Marine Band in the apartments below came to the sick room in soft, subdued murmurs, like the wild, faint sobbing of far off spirits Keckley, op cit William Wallace Lincoln is sick He is burning up with fever His head is pounding to the beat of a song with a faster tempo than what he hears seeping through the floorboards from below Hecan tbreathe It feels like a fat man is squatting on his chest His father comes to see him His eyes are hollowed out cinders His skin is stretched tightly against his face He hovers over him like a disembodied skull His beard tickles his cheek releasing a flood of memories of being held, being indulged, being love His mother comes to see him Her pretty dress rustling like a cat moving through the river rushes Her breathing is constricted He wants to ask her to loosen her corset, but what passes through his mind never makes it to his lips Her eyes are pinched with worry He dreams about his pony and wonders when will he be well enough to ride him again He d cry, but he is too tired to cry Crying leads to weeping, and weeping leads to coughing.And then something unexpected happens he dies That isn t supposed to happen His father is clothed in immense power Some might even say he is the most powerful man in the world How can this be Fix it, Daddy Great sobs choked his utterance He buried his head in his hands, and his tall frame was convulsed with emotion I stood at the foot of the bed, my eyes full of tears, looking at the man in silent, awe stricken wonder His grief unnerved him, and made him a weak, passive child I did not dream that his rugged nature could be so moved I shall never forget those solemn moments genius and greatness weeping over love s lost idol Keckley, op Cit Lincoln had already lost one child, Eddie, back in 1850 Was he punished for his own indulgence in sadness He d paid his price for his melancholy Was Willie a payment for the war Was this his blood gift His sacrifice to save the Union Where was his reprieve, like the Abraham from the Bible God didn t say, stay thy hand He let the reaper do his work The saddest eyes of any human being that I have ever seen Joshua Wolf Shenk, account of John Widmer They buried the boy in Oak Hill Cemetery Lincoln came to see him, cloaked in darkness Willie is there, sidestepped away from his carapace He is trapped in the bardo, held by the love of his father, as he watches his father weep, holding the body so tenderly taken from his sick box The Tibetan word bardo means literally intermediate state also translated as transitional state or in between state Willie would go, but his father said he d be back There are other trapped souls there in a form of purgatory, snared by their own fears at what awaits them in the next world And yet no one had ever come here to hold one of us, while speaking so tenderly Hans Vollman Ever Roger Bevins IIIAs various forces vie for the soul of young Willie, and Lincoln is exactly who we expect Lincoln to be, the Civil War rages in the background, and Mary Todd Lincoln finally lets loose the bonds of her mind and goes briefly mad As much as Lincoln would love to swim in the bitter, black soup of his own depression, the fate of a nation lies squarely on his shoulders He cannot falter He cannot grieve freely as a father should In the darkness of night, among the gray black tombstones, he can for a time let loose the torrent of his tormented mind George Saunders has written a book in a style I have not encountered before He mixes quotes from journalists with observations from people who were there, and with ghostly comments from those trapped between worlds It makes for a heady mix of snippets that weave themselves into a whole cloth story Obviously, to write a book like this he has to research the material as if he were writing a nonfiction book I can almost envision this moment when Saunders is looking at the notecards tacked to his wall, each containing a quote that he wants to use in his novel and thinkingthis is my novel I do have to give Saunders creative points for the concept, but there is a part of me that thinks that this is a short story specialist who is trying to find a way to write a novel Clever little bastard that he is, he pulls it off As we listen to the ghosts and the people surrounding the tragic events of Willie s untimely death, we also hear their stories, and though few can claim the extent of tragedy that finds the Lincoln family time and time again, there are some absolutes that govern everyone s life No one gets out of this life unscathed Once you experience love, you will experience loss If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  4. says:

    Yes, I know I stand alone in my dislike for this book EVERYONE loves it Nope, not me I actually hated it I ve heard people say they wanted to throw a book across a room and I never understood that desire to harm a book, but for me, this is one to throw I should know better than to read a book in which the review says something like an alternative writing a different way of telling a story That just means it s weird, no plot, no character development, an author trying something new that works for others, but not me.This is not historical fiction, this is not even a novel, this is a series of short paragraphs that are only semi linked This book is not about Lincoln, so if you re a President Abraham Lincoln lover, you will likely not like or appreciate this book There s no story here I read reviews in which people said they were moved to tears over Lincoln s sorrow Huh It s a bunch of ghosts talking to each other who don t even know they re dead I hated all the voices and I hated the short quotes from people who were supposed to be there Some of these were real quotes and other were made up Even this bothered me, either use all real quotes or make it completely fiction I felt like I was reading George Saunders spiral notebook where he was jotting down his notes and footnotes, it was just a list There were over 160 narrators voicing the audio book This could have been cool, and for those listeners who love this book, will love this idea as well, but because I hated it, it bugged me that so many great actors, authors, narrators, got pulled suckered into this mess David Sedaris, Megan Mullally, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon and the list goes on.I realize I stand alone and the rest of you will love this book Go ahead, love it We will connect on a different book on a different day.October 17, 2017This rubbish just won the Booker Prize and I could not be unhappy about it.

  5. says:

    From the first day I saw that George Sanders had a new release I kept walking I had a lot of resistance to read George Sanders again The Tenth of December was the number 1 best seller for months and months..Everyone seemed to LOVE it OUTSTANDING they all said NOT FOR ME.I didn t understand the hype It was alright..but not wow for me by any means I remember thinking another lesser name at the time RISING today was the OUTSTANDING collection of short stories that people ought to be talking about by Peter Tieryas Liu for his book called Watering Heaven..A collection of short stories that still blows me away to this day The stories all that place in China Brilliant book So.In order to break through my George Saunders resignation I had to do a ton of homework before investing my actual time and money on the physical book and audiobook NOTE I m the type of reader who usually doesn t need to read than the blurb I prefer going into a book almost blind as long as my gut feeling towards it is thumbs up Yet when in doubt it takes a bulldozer to get through me A cyber bet of an imaginary coin toss which I won finally made me realize I m not getting out of reading this book so I simply surrendered AND MY GOLLY THE HYPE IS REAL It s really REAL This book is OUTSTANDING IT is at times like a Greek Chorus The spirit souls in the graveyard where Lincoln temporarily buried Willie narratein clear unflinching prose I had prepared myself to struggle following the different ghost voices The surprise was I had little problem with the structure It was clear as a spotless window.that many of these voices were already dead souls I personally found their backgrounds fascinating the good and bad people who had died their crimes their personalities their belief that they might return to life after all they haven t completed their death yet A few times I thought of The Book Thief , by Mark Zusak, with the unusual narrator, Death.because at the time I felt it was very effective profoundly imagined..Now, comes Lincoln in the Bardo taking the unusual narrator narrators to a whole new level beyond the universal so to speak. death, grief, and love..mixed with history of the timesand moving on and letting go and letting go and letting go. A father s love for his son the grimmest of prognosis hurts deeper than hurt GEORGE SANDERS created a deeply emotional beautiful heartbreaking journey There is nothing typical about this book It s extraordinary NOTE Having the PHYSICAL BOOK to read the words is powerful and the AUDIOBOOK is magnificent great combination The voice of Lincoln is wrenchingly felt in your gut Other voices are awesome some very modern and contemporary others ancient and old feeling others quite playful. some faster than the speed of light a sentence spoken 2nd NOTE If a parent has recently lost a child this book could either be impossible for them to read or perhaps it s a comfort But they would need to tread cautiously However.I think this is not only an masterful book but an important one needed We ve needed this book written

  6. says:

    What a painfully boring book 166 narrators chiming in and overlapping in a story that seems so random and disconnected for the most part It might be deep, and it might be clever, but if there isn t the barest spark of something to make you care what s on the next page then why even bother turning it I gave up at 35% Life is way too short.

  7. says:

    I had a complicated relationship with this book The writing was exquisite and I was amazed at the brilliance of the author, but there were also long sections where I felt completely lost The tide runs out but never runs in The stones roll downhill but do not roll back up What I m about to write doesn t even begin to sum this book up President Abraham Lincoln s beloved eleven year old son Willie passes away after an illness However, Willie doesn t realize he s dead His soul is stuck in a transitional phase along with the other ghosts who populate the cemetery On the evening of the funeral, Lincoln returns to the cemetery and cradles his dead son s body The ghosts are amazed at the rare scene of a tenderness towards the dead Lincoln leaves, but promises to return It s unwise for a child to stay in the transitional realm for long, so some of the ghosts attempt to usher Willy into the next realm Willie is determined to stay and wait for his father, so the ghosts must concoct a plan to convince him to move on Trap Horrible trap At one s birth it is sprung Some last day must arrive When you will need to get out of this body Bad enough Then we bring a baby here The terms of the trap are compounded That baby also must depart All pleasures should be tainted by that knowledge But hopeful dear us, we forget Lord, what is this George Saunders is always recommended to me when I mention my love of Helen Phillips, and now I know why The storytelling is surreal and the imagery is bizarre, sometimes grotesque Lincoln in the Bardo is both humorous and devastatingly sad This 368 page book is actually rather short on words the audiobook is only 7 hours and 25 minutes Part of it is like a play and the other part is constructed from excerpts of other sources, both real and imagined Hans Vollman, Roger Bevins, and Reverend Everly Thomas serve as our guides in the transitional stage between life and death The form these ghosts take relate to unresolved issues at the time of their death Hans Vollman died before he was able to consummate his marriage, so he walks around naked with a massive, swollen member Roger Bevins became hyper aware of the world s beauty right before his death, so he s covered with eyes, hands, and noses In a sad twist, these ghosts don t realize they are dead they refer to their corpses as sick forms and their coffins as sick boxes They believe they will resume their lives eventually One feels such love for the little ones, such anticipation that all that is lovely in life will be known by them, such fondness for that set of attributes manifested uniquely in each mannerisms of bravado, of vulnerability, habits of speech and mispronouncement and so forth the smell of the hair and head, the feel of the tiny hand in yours and then the little one is gone Taken One is thunderstruck that such a brutal violation has occurred in what had previously seemed a benevolent world From nothingness, there arose great love now, its source nullified, that love, searching and sick, converts to the most abysmal suffering imaginable It was really interesting how fact and fiction work alongside each other in this story I was amazed at how Saunders juxtaposed pieces from various sources to create a complete picture, especially since many of the reports are contradictory Some of the historical chapters were especially memorable 1 Conflicting descriptions of the moon on the night of Willie s death There s something beautiful about the unreliability of our memories.2 Descriptions of Lincoln s appearance He s described as an ugly man by many, but those who are closely acquainted see him a little differently.3 Criticism of the Lincoln during the Civil War I couldn t help but think of the modern day while reading the intense and sometimes vulgar criticism of Abraham Lincoln One of the detractor s comments would ve been right at home in a YouTube comment section I was in error when I saw him as fixed and stable and thought I would have him forever He was never fixed, nor stable, but always just a passing, temporary energy burst I had reason to know this Had he not looked this way at birth, that way at four, another way at seven, been made entirely anew at nine He had never stayed the same, even instant to instant He came out of nothingness, took form, was loved, was always bound to return to nothingness The heart of the novel is the strength of the bond between President Lincoln and Willie In one interview, Saunders mentions the idea for this novel started with a vision he had of the Lincoln Memorial and the Pieta combined That image came through crystal clear in the text, because the first thing I thought of when Lincoln holds is son was Michelangelo s Piet The pathos permeates the pages Willie s intense need to be close to his father broke my heart I felt the immense weight of both grief and the presidency on Abraham Lincoln s shoulders in a way that I ve never gotten from my nonfiction reading As he grieves for his beloved son, he agonizes over the decisions he has made as president He was intellectually aware of the casualties of war, but there s a shift in him as he s forced to deal with the loss of his own son We had been considerable Had been loved Not lonely, not lost, not freakish, but wise, each in his or her own way Our departure caused pain Those who had loved us sat upon their beds, heads in hand lowered their faces to tabletops, making animal noises We had been loved, I say, and remembering us, even many years later, people would smile, briefly gladdened at the memory I enjoyed the idea of visiting with the other ghosts as a general idea than in practice There were so many characters and I didn t have patience for all of them Maybe it was that we didn t get to spend that much time with them Most of the time I wanted to get back to the Lincolns A combination of the strange imagery and each ghost s distinct nineteenth century speaking style made some of their voices difficult for me to read The style was sometimes so opaque, that my mind couldn t penetrate it sometimes I was just reading words, unable to extract any meaning from them It didn t help that the names of the speakers were placed after they spoke, especially with the longer passages Perhaps that s less of a concern in audio distinct voices or print easier flipping The hype around this book intensified my frustration I checked the average rating after a sixty page struggle and had one of those Oh crap I m the only person in the world that doesn t understand this moments If you hit a section that makes you feel frustration than transcendence, you re not alone I m not saying any of this to discourage anyone from reading it, but to help anyone who is having similar struggles It was worth it for me to continue through my frustration because some of my favorite moments are at the end, when Lincoln wrestles with decisions about the war.Pale broken thing Why will it not work What magic word made it work Who is the keeper of that word What did it profit Him to switch this one off What a contraption it is How did it ever run What spark ran it Grand little machine Set up just so Receiving the spark, it jumped to life What put out that spark What a sin it would be Who would dare Ruin such a marvel Hence is murder anathema.All that being said, there were exceptions I was touched by the woman who worried about the three daughters she left behind and the stories from the black contingent of ghosts was highly relevant Some of the most heartbreaking scenes were watching the ghosts cycle through forms they were never able to realize I ve never felt confronted about the transience of life or how our physical bodies are just temporary vessels Tomorrow is never a guarantee, but it s easy to forget as we live our day to day lives There s so much to learn from these ghosts as we see how they view their past lives and learn about their regrets Somehow everything looks completely different once there are no chances I was hopeful that the inhabitants of the cemetery, including Willie, would be able to make peace with themselves and find a way to complete their journey He is just one And the weight of it about to kill me Have exported this grief Some three thousand times So far To date A mountain Of boys Someone s boys Must keep on with it May not have the heart for it One thing to pull the lever when blind to the result But here lies one dear example of what I accomplish by the orders I don t always have the easiest time with ghost stories, but the way these ghosts affect President Lincoln reminded me of the power of reading how it allows the voices and experiences of those real and imagined, dead and alive shape who we are and influence our viewpoints As the weight of new experiences overwhelms President Lincoln, a stronger empathy and sense of purpose arise in him He knows what he must do to preserve the union Under the disapproving eye of a nation, we watch as he comes to the steadfast conclusion that the the swiftest halt to the thing therefore the greatest mercy might be the bloodiest Hans Vollman s words Reading this novel is a wholly unique experience It s brilliant and emotionally powerful, but sometimes confusing for me My lack of star rating is not the same as zero it s just an indication that I can t fit this book in any kind of rating system One, two, or three stars seem too low because there were parts that I was amazed by, but four or five stars doesn t seem honest to my overall experience This book is hard to compare to anything else As far as oddness, eerie atmosphere and the depth of emotion I felt, I was reminded of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro For a resoundingly positive review, I recommend reading Colson Whitehead s analysis in The New York Times and watching the immersive narrative short at the end.Edit 3 20 17 Decided on 3 stars I liked it, but not overwhelmingly so.I received this book for free from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review Its publication date is February 14, 2017.

  8. says:

    NOW AVAILABLE 4.5 StarsHow does one review a book such as this one No words could possibly truly convey the potential journey a reader is embarking on when they open this novel This is certainly nothing like any other book I ve read, in concept or in style Before I requested this, I looked up several references to the definition of the bardo, both the Tibetan definition and how it s meaning carries beyond the definition Bardo is the in between place a transitional state, the period of the afterlife between two states our former reality is no longer, the bardo seems much like a waiting space before you enter into your next phase of life I would say this applies to the bereaved, as well as the deceased Your former life has changed, and a period of time must pass before one may move on to the next phase, rebuild.William Wallace Lincoln, the third son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, had been sick off and on since the beginning of the year, as had his brother Tad On February 20, 1862 at 5 00pm, Willie died most likely of typhoid fever Willie was eleven years old After Willie s death, Abraham Lincoln often visited the crypt where Willie was interred, which continued for months Holding him This fact is the basis for this novel.The majority of conversations throughout Lincoln in the Bardo are between the deceased who remain in the bardo The conversations are sometimes like ramblings, sometimes multiple inputs from the others that are often a cacophony than harmonious choir of thoughts Willie waits among them, waiting for his father s return Lincoln, in his grief, is in his own state of waiting, his mind unwilling to accept the reality Amidst all of the conversations are excerpts of historical texts regarding Lincoln s behavior, his suffering Some are letters sent to the President regarding the War from grieving parents Some are compassionate and lovely All paint a picture of an unbearable loss Lincoln s loss The loss of the families whose sons were fighting in the war, or who had fought and were never coming home.Having never read anything by George Saunders before, I am a bit in awe of the thought process that went into this rather astounding and poignant debut novel I loved this, despite heartbreaking moments, it is strangely wonderful, the brilliance behind it still shone through Recommended Pub Date 14 Feb 2017Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House

  9. says:

    My son, here may indeed be torment, but not death Dante Purgatorio There really, really must be something wrong with me.Many of my esteemed Goodreads friends, whose rave reviews I have a lot of faith in, are smitten with George Saunders book It s even won the blimmin Booker Prize for crying out loud Um, where to begin he grimaces, wringing his hands in the manner of a doctor delivering bad news.I tried my hardest to like it, I really did in the same way I once tried to like green smoothies first thing in the morning, until I came to the realisation that a nice cup of Earl Grey was still a better option Booker Prize, or no Booker Prize, I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed this irksome offering A patchwork quilt of musings, transcripts, obituaries and purgatorial grumblings does not in my humble opinion form a novel.Sandwiched somewhere between Saunders rectangles of anecdotal nonsense is a soulful, heart rending human interest tale that deserves to be told I rather hoped that he would give up on this clunky gimmick and get on with writing something resembling an actual story but, alas, he continued in the same vein until the bitter end.This, to me, was the literary equivalent of scrolling through someone else s text messages except I would have derived pleasure from reading someone else s text messages And why do some ghosts even bother to self censor their swear words with dashes Whose delicate sensibilities are they worried about upsetting Everybody s dead anyway It s so f king annoying I apologise to everyone who has swooned over this body of work There is a very good chance that my antipathy might betray a complete lack of good taste and understanding on my part In fairness, I do see this working better as an audiobook, or as a stage play.But as a novel Nope, not for me Not in this lifetime anyway Sorry.

  10. says:

    Wow, this wasn t just reading a novel it was a true reading experience Wholly inventive, imaginative, the amount of research staggering, something totally new and different Will admit having some trouble in the beginning, couldn t see where the author was going with this, wondering if it was gong to progress, it did in a very interesting way Not going to rehash the plot, the description only loosely defines this The book is helped along by some very unusual narrators, Vollmam and Bevins, along with a Reverend that can t figure out why he wasn t let in the pearly gates There is a cast of many others, all with their own stories to add to the mix.This novel takes a little patience, a willingness to embrace the unusual and an imagination that lets one see outside the norm I though it was brilliant.ARC from publisher.Release date February 14th.