Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

A Novel

Downloadable Audiobook - 2017
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The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and inventedFebruary 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. "My poor boy, he was too good for this earth," the president says at the time. "God has called him home." Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy's body.From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. 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.Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction's ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?The 166-person full cast features award-winning actors and musicians, as well as a number of Saunders' family, friends, and members of his publishing team, including, in order of their appearance: Nick Offerman as HANS VOLLMAN David Sedaris as ROGER BEVINS III Carrie Brownstein as ISABELLE PERKINS George Saunders as THE REVEREND EVERLY THOMAS Miranda July as MRS. ELIZABETH CRAWFORD Lena Dunham as ELISE TRAYNOR Ben Stiller as JACK MANDERS Julianne Moore as JANE ELLIS Susan Sarandon as MRS. ABIGAIL BLASS Bradley Whitford as LT. CECIL STONE Bill Hader as EDDIE BARON Megan Mullally as BETSY BARON Rainn Wilson as PERCIVAL "DASH" COLLIER Jeff Tweedy as CAPTAIN WILLIAM PRINCE Kat Dennings as MISS TAMARA DOOLITTLE Jeffrey Tambor as PROFESSOR EDMUND BLOOMER Mike O'Brien as LAWRENCE T. DECROIX Keegan-Michael Key as ELSON FARWELL Don Cheadle as THOMAS HAVENS and Patrick Wilson as STANLEY "PERFESSER" LIPPERT with Kirby Heyborne as WILLIE LINCOLN, Mary Karr as MRS. ROSE MILLAND, and Cassandra Campbell as Your NarratorPraise for George Saunders "No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time."--Khaled Hosseini"Few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does."--Junot Díaz "George Saunders is a complete original. There is no one better, no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity."--Dave Eggers "Not since Twain has America produced a satirist this...
Publisher: New York : Random House Audio, 2017
[New York] :, Penguin Random House Audio,, [2017]
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9780553397581
0553397583
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 sound file (7 hr., 29 min., 24 sec.)) :,digital
digital, rda
audio file, rda
Additional Contributors: Offerman, Nick 1970-
Sedaris, David

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Narrated by 166 actors, including Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, and more.

Narrated by 166 actors, including Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, and more.

Featuring not one, not two, but 166 narrators, including Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, David Sedaris & more.


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Shuken_1989
May 19, 2019

What a superb book. George Saunders really hit this one out of the park for me. I found myself sitting for a while in my car, even after my commute ended, just to wrap up listening to the chapter that I was on. The fact that Saunders used multiple voice actors, for the book-on-tape version, really added to the experience. Actors such as Nick Offerman (Parks and Rec) and Megan Mullaly (Will and Grace) both add a layer with their own interpretations of the myriad of characters present in the book.

I feel that Saunders was also very loyal to preserving the time period. I found that the historically relevant musings, desires and goals in of each of the Oak Hill Cemetery's denizens were made relatable simply by the telling and framing of the story. Saunders also does a great job of making Lincoln's inner monologue extremely sympathetic to the listener. Saunders explores Lincoln's grief at the death of his beloved son Willie and his battles with depression in an in-depth and appropriately entertaining way.

I was also impressed by Saunders' use of diverse religious ideas. Namely the idea of setting the book in the Bardo of the Oak Hill Cemetery, a Buddhist concept of a intermediate "purgatory" between existences. Saunders presentation of the characters understanding of their situation adds to the suspense. The characters spotty understanding of the realm they inhabit also allows the reader, or listener, to read into the story their own interpretations.

The conclusion of the story left me feeling warm and life affirmed. I would definitely recommend this book and especially the audio version to a friend.

w
Waluconis
Mar 13, 2019

George Saunders' novels are always unique. This concerns itself with the after-life, termed the Bardo in the Tibetan Book of the Dead ("Bardo Thodol". That book is not mentioned in this novel, but it is the immediate after-life, where souls can be stuck. Here it is located in a cemetery with many souls involved, some of whom have been there for some time. They move through the landscape and interact in a manner that is at least partially - Dante meets Samuel Beckett. The way that all directly express themselves reminds one of Dante, even though they all do not know they will not return to that "previous place", as it is called. But in this case their feeling of hopelessness has dialogue like the characters in a Beckett play. "Nothing to be done" from "Waiting for Godot" turns into "Nothing to be done about it. Nothing ever to have been done about it." But hold on - what about Lincoln? Well, he and his son who has just died are at the heart of the story. Lincoln's grief is so strong that it extends his connection to his son into the afterlife. The material realities of the world are presented in a matter-of-fact way with cited quotations of primary source material from the time period. This makes an interesting contrast with the souls who have trouble moving on from a lost life that was in most cases violent and disturbing. The dispossessed, the lost, those who died in the 19th century, grief, anxieties, hopes, wishes, aspirations - Saunders pulls all these together in a convincing and unforgettable way. I also enjoyed listening to the Audio book, which has many readers (including the author and David Sedaris) to read all of the voices and historical quotations. It was very helpful in making one's way through the many voices and bringing the novel closer to us.

h
HAMURCHISON
Jul 30, 2018

I read the book and found it the most unusual book I have read in some time. Talked with a friend of mine and she encouraged me to listen to the audio version. The incredible cast of readers makes the book come to life and really made me appreciate George Saunders work all over again. Most extraordinary book I've ever listened to or read.

profdavis Jun 13, 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo belongs to that rarest of fantasy sub-genres, novels about the society of ghosts living in a cemetery. It is one of the most oddly structured novels I have read, consisting entirely of first person narration by multiple characters, interspersed with brief quotes from historical books and articles about Abraham Lincoln. The audio version is a remarkable accomplishment, using hundreds of speakers to voice all the different narrators. The three main characters are voiced by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and the author George Saunders. The plot revolves around the death of Lincoln's 11 year old son Willie Lincoln in 1862. The novel is a meditation on death and the necessity of facing the reality of death and moving on, for both the living and the dead.

SPPL_Anna Mar 13, 2018

An altogether strange novel with an amazing premise. Add to that an audiobook featuring 166 in the cast and you've got an experience.

bookishdl Jan 11, 2018

A difficult book to listen to due to the incredibly long list of characters but once you realise there are a handful of key ones to tune in to, it becomes easier. I would've liked to follow along with the hard copy, especially when the references were being made to actual letter extracts or commentaries (too many holds on the book).

The most unusual book I've read in terms of structure and content but very cleverly done. I enjoyed the interweaving of actual historical facts and events with the author's ghost story element and there are some quite brilliant pieces of prose littered throughout. It was sad, funny, irreverent, disturbing and poignant and it crept up on me; a bit like the tendrils that begin to cling to young Willie.

This story is lingering with me still and I feel I will be re-reading to fully absorb the multitude of messages contained therein.

t
tegan
Jan 06, 2018

This was a bookclub book for me. I'm not really into historical fiction, so I didn't get all the way through it. I almost wonder if this book would be better read, as it was quite confusing as an audiobook. It probably didn't help that I was listening to it at double speed, since I wasn't enjoying it, but trying to get through it. Ha. The one thing that was quite unique about this audiobook, is that there are seemingly hundreds of different readers.

m
Mooseum
Dec 04, 2017

Is giving this audiobook three stars a cop-out? That this book is non-linear isn't what confused me, nor that it was read by many different unidentified and sometimes famous voices. There was some sort of disjointedness which kept throwing me off. It probably isn't even important to try to keep the thread of the story in the back of one's mind. The "op-sits" made me think that I wasn't paying enough attention to know what the original work that was mentioned could be.

A close friend loved this book, and listening to Michael Silverblatt on KCRW's Bookworm talk with George Saunders made me want to read/listen to this book.

However, I join the minority. Saying that I didn't like this book is too strong. It was simply perplexing.

m
Mooseum
Dec 04, 2017

Is giving this audiobook three stars a cop-out? That this book is non-linear isn't what confused me, nor that it was read by many different unidentified and sometimes famous voices. There was some sort of disjointedness which kept throwing me off. It probably isn't even important to try to keep the thread of the story in the back of one's mind. The "op-sits" made me think that I wasn't paying enough attention to know what the original work that was mentioned could be.

A close friend loved this book, and listening to Michael Silverblatt on KCRW's Bookworm talk with George Saunders made me want to read/listen to this book.

However, I join the minority. Saying that I didn't like this book is too strong. It was simply perplexing.

LoganLib_JennyI Nov 27, 2017

George Saunders brings us a new take on historical fiction. Being an avid reader of non-fiction and fiction books, I loved the interspersed quotes and clips from people and media of the day. This novel shows how Lincoln wore the unenviable hat of US president (during a Civil War, no less) and the heavy cloak of grief for his favourite son president. It seemed too much for one human to bear and the crypt scenes were tear jerkers.
My only criticism was the unnecessary over-use of harsh swearing by the bardo characters at times. I am not a prude but it seemed more swearing than necessary to get across the anger/socio-economic status/opinion of the character who was speaking.

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