Lincoln in the Bardo

I finished Lincoln in the Bardo a few days ago and I am still thinking about it.  It is written by George Saunders and came out earlier this year.  Saunders is mostly known for his short stories and this is his first novel.

President Lincoln’s young son, Willie has died and is stick in an in-between state between life and crossing over.  There are numerous characters stuck there with him and the voice of the narrator switches between all of these people, almost in a stream of consciousness screenplay format.  Some of the characters are easier to understand than others, which can make for dense reading at times.

I really enjoyed the historical portions of the story that seem to come from genuine first person accounts from the time period with respect to Lincoln’s actions around Willie’s death.  The idea of seeing the President as a grieving father is very compelling.  The most frustrating part of the book were the characters that couldn’t understand the place they were in and their refusal to move on, but maybe that was the whole point of them being there.


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