Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders

Mike’s review

I glaze through experimental shit, feeling I don’t need to re-read if I don’t fully understand. That the impression has been left in my mind somewhere and the words have affected their cause.


The word “novel is far-fetched here. Maybe a poem? Though not exactly that either.

I think we’re looking at spoilers from here out for a plot summary. Willie Lincoln dies. He goes to the In-Between/Purgatory/The Bardo. There are other souls there with him. Abraham Lincoln comes to visit Willie. The other souls want Willie to move onto the next phase of his (non?)existence. They try to occupy Lincoln’s body to get him to tell Willie to move on. Willie knows what’s up though, knows what’s going on the whole time. He was just bummed about being dead. We also learn bits and pieces about a lot of tangential characters and go in-depth-ish with a few more main ones.


Once Willie tells everyone they’re dead, and they all start to move on, it’s very pretty. But I wish we’d heard from the Reverend and saw what he was thinking, how he overcame his fear of judgement. Knowing that I skip over stuff when it’s experimental I even went back to make sure I didn’t miss out. Seems like a missed opportunity for a character to grow. He was scared to face his fate and then suddenly he was moved on.


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