Monday, April 10, 2017
Lincoln in the Bardo
Based on an actual event, the death of Abraham Lincoln's young son, Willie.
After his body is placed in a crypt in the cemetery, Willie's spirit leaves his body and meets the other denizens of the cemetery, the spirits of the dead who have chosen to linger on Earth rather than pass on to their ultimate fate. Since Willie is an innocent child, the spirits expect he will soon pass on, as most little ones do.
But then Lincoln comes to visit his dead son and Willie, who doesn't quite understand he is deceased, lingers to be with his father.
Actually, the spirits inhabiting the cemetery also don't seem to understand they are dead. They think they are merely ailing and refer to their coffins as sick-boxes. There are spirits who have been there for many decades who still don't get they are dead. But they all are anxious to tell young Willie their life stories.
So Willie lingers because his father keeps returning to his dead son and eventually Willie comes to know he is dead and communicates that knowledge to the other spirits, causing much consternation and mass exodus of spirits ensues as the realitzation they are all dead finally sinks in.
This was an interesting story, especially as it includes excerpts from books about Lincoln. Although I did read that some of those references are not real.
For another review: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/08/lincoln-in-the-bardo-george-saunders-review.