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Lincoln in the Bardo (2017)

von George Saunders

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4,4082882,004 (3.97)417
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. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body. 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.… (mehr)
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Congratulations to the author for the ManBooker Prize.

Although I liked this book very much it did keep reminding me of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book"
Just to find out if I was the only one who thought so I went googling. Here's a link to a short critical article from someone else who liked the book and drew parallels to Gaiman and several others.
http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/books/book-review-lincoln-in-the-bardo...

( )
  Phil-James | Oct 1, 2021 |
A beautiful book about love, life and death. A hundred years from now this book will be part of our canon. ( )
  auldhouse | Sep 30, 2021 |
[b:Lincoln in the Bardo|29906980|Lincoln in the Bardo|George Saunders|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1492130850l/29906980._SX50_.jpg|50281866] is the rare book that feels both ephemeral and enduring all at once. It's a rare case of an author simply connecting two dots - a father's love for his dead son and the eternal question of what happens after death - and leaving the story right there exactly there. Some might be underwhelmed by the sparseness and I'll admit that the narrative style is a little abstract (especially in the early going) but hot damn if this isn't a neat piece of fiction. ( )
  eshaundo | Sep 13, 2021 |
Listened to audio book and read a small bit when I couldn't listen. I loved the idea of the book, but I didn't appreciate the format or the number of characters, (I believe totaled 160??). The story had some beautiful and amusing moments, but not enough for me to recommend. Considering the number of rave reviews, if you do read it, I highly recommend the audio book, on many lists as a top 10 audio. ( )
  almin | Sep 4, 2021 |
This is a strange book about grief, love, holding on, and letting go. It is played out in an indeterminate state after death. The indeterminacy comes in part from the fact that the dead don’t seem to know that they are dead. It appears that it’s not just among the survivors that denial is the first stage of grief.
The book focuses on one episode in the life of Lincoln: the death of his favorite son, Willie. Contemporary accounts record the macabre detail that the mourning president visited the cemetery in the middle of the night after Willie’s funeral, entered the crypt, and took the embalmed body of his son from its coffin to hold it in his grief.
What if Willie, and the shades of others buried there, are aware of Lincoln doing this? What effect would it have on them? That is the author’s point of departure. Lincoln has trespassed into the world of the shades during the hours when the space of the cemetery is their world, not his. Saunders uses the term “Bardo” to describe this, the term in Tibetan Buddhism for the intermediate state of souls, in which they come to grips with their last go-round on earth, process it and prepare for their next life. This isn’t explicitly spelled out in the book, however. The idea that the spirits of the departed may linger a while before embarking on their journey is found in many cultural contexts.
If you’re like me, you’ve read many books on Lincoln. But in the overarching span of his life, or even of his presidency, the death of Willie seems a small incident, almost a footnote.
Part of the power of Saunders’ prose is that he realizes what Lincoln and his wife Mary must have gone through. He unpacks this traumatic experience as one that permanently altered their lives.
The narrative is not about Lincoln, however, as much as it is about the shades who lurk about Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery. When I say narrative, however, don’t expect a tale told in a continuous stream by a single narrator. Saunders adopts the technique of piecing together snippets of historical documents of the time (some of them his invention) and the fragmentary recollection of the shades. This was hard to adjust to at first, but once I figured out what was happening, I could follow it, as many of them took on recognizable personalities.
The result is a meditation on the nature of life (sad) and salvation (although the book doesn’t use that term). Understandably, each shade feels compelled to recount his or her story (unfair it was, all of it), the way to salvation begins with taking notice of, even having compassion for, other sufferers.
Lincoln enters this cacophony (or rather, it enters him). He comes away with a deepened understanding of the tragic nature of life — admittedly, this merely intensifies the previous bent of his mind. Ironically, this deepened compassion leads to a strengthened resolve to do whatever necessary to pursue the conflict that his inauguration provoked to its bloody end. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Saunders, GeorgeHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Offerman, NickErzählerHauptautoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Sedaris, DavidErzählerHauptautoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Bachman, Barbara MGestaltungCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Brownstein, CarrieErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Cardinal, ChelseaUmschlaggestalterCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Cheadle, DonErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Dennings, KatErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Dughet, HaspardUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Dunham, LenaErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Hader, BillErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
July, Miranda ErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Karr, MaryErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Pye, JohnUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Stiller, BenErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Webb, E.UmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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I will never forget those solemn moments—genius and greatness weeping over the love's lost idol.
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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. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body. 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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