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Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders I loved this book. Everything about it is original. The subject, the writing and the construction of the novel. I loved the way Saunders teased out themes about life and living from dead characters.

I went through four different stages in reading this book. The first stage, I was a bit confused by the construction of the novel and had to re-read the first few passages. Then I settled into it and started to really enjoy it. Then I started to think that there was no way to draw it all together into any sort of coherent conclusion. But my fears were unfounded, because Saunders did. Willie's acceptance of his new path in life, or more accurately death, was touching and innocent.

I also loved how the story illustrated small intimate aspects of Abraham Lincoln's character, even though he was never given a direct voice through the novel, but was observed or quoted by other characters. Abraham Lincoln's acceptance of his new place and path in life, was paralleled by Willie's. While it didn't have the innocence of Willie's, it hinted at a new importance and significance, while at the same time drawing out his humanity and flaws, all of which also contributed ultimately to his greatness.

While the story's title refers to Lincoln in the bardo, which was probably a reference to both Lincolns, every single character was there with them, awaiting their time to be transported to the next stage.

This book probably isn't for everyone. But if you have a hankering for a truly original and challenging story about the transformation of the self, then you can't go past this one.