Hugh Likes Fiction-Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo
Written by George Saunders
Full Cast Audiobook
Published by Penguin Random House

Lincoln in the Bardo is less a novel of The Civil War than it is a novel about life (and death) surrounding the war. It is set on the night following the burial of William Lincoln, the president’s son who died of Typhoid, and follows the many ghosts that dwell in Oak Hill Cemetery.
The ghosts, all trapped between life and death by their earthly desires and attachments, observe and interact with the spirit of the boy and the mourning Lincoln, who returns that night. A mixture of fantasy and historical record, Saunders intersperses the true event of the president’s mourning with the lives of his fictional ghosts and excerpts from memoirs and accounts of the period. The result is both cacophonous and elegantly executed. Much like the spirits who deny what is in front of them, the country is caught on the edge of monumental change, change that is nearly impossible, but necessary. Acceptance and reaction to those changes, both for the living and the dead, is the crux of the story.
The audiobook of Lincoln in the Bardo is a full cast recording that really takes advantage of the nature of the book. a huge cast of actors create a chorus of voices. The dizzying variety of their opinions and backgrounds reflect the diverse stories of the characters very well. The mood is well established, and it really sets the atmosphere for the story. The cast is anchored by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and Saunders himself as three spirits who are most active in the story. The rest of the cast is a crowd of voices both recognizable and unknown, and is excellently produced.
Lincoln in the Bardo is available in audio and print from Audible and your local independent book store. I recommend giving it a listen, or a read.

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