Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Audiobook CD - 2017
Average Rating:
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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 invented

February 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 Narrator

Praise for the audiobook

"Lincoln in the Bardo" sets a new standard for cast recordings in its structure, in its performances, and in its boldness. Now, let's see who answers the challenge." - Chicago Tribune

"Like the novel, the audiobook breaks new ground in what can be accomplished through a story. It helps that there's not a single bad note in the cast of a whopping 166 people. It's also the rare phenomenon of an audiobook being a completely different experience compared to the novel. Even if you've read the novel, the audiobook is worth a listen (and vice versa). The whole project pushes the narrative form forward." - A.V. Club

"The result is an auditory experience unlike any other, where the awareness of individual voices disappears while the carefully calibrated soundscape summons a metaphysical masterpiece. This is a tour de force of audiobook product

Publisher: New York, New York :, Random House Audio,, [2017]
Copyright Date: ℗2017
ISBN: 9780553397574
0553397575
Characteristics: 6 audio discs (7 hr., 30 min.) :,digital ;,12 cm., in container
audio file, CD audio, rda
digital, optical, stereo, rda

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e
Einer2
Mar 21, 2018

Audio version was even more difficult to get into than the print version-I tried both and finished neither.

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.

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.

lindab1111 Aug 17, 2017

Listened to the audio when I heard that there were 166 voices contributing to this production. I was initially distracted by the continual references to footnotes but that was short lived. Saunders writes from eyewitness accounts of the tragic death of Willie Lincoln and the grief of his father, Abraham Lincoln. This book is part ghost story and part historical account of a grieving president while a nation looks on.

m
maipenrai
Jun 09, 2017

I wanted to like this book, but found the audiobook distracting because of citations. The cacophony of the dead was far too much a part of the story and detracted from focus on Lincoln and his grief over the loss of his beloved son. Disappointed. Bookwoman and Abby Tabby

m
mrmartino
May 09, 2017

This is one of the most difficult books on tape I have ever listened to. The continuous interruption of the reading to add in the reference makes it almost unlistenable. A recorded book should be read like one would read the book. When I read a book I do not stop after every quote to read the reference. This book is going back 2 discs in.

r
Revacard
Mar 05, 2017

There are a lot of bigly celebrities that read for this book. Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Bill Hader stand out in the book. I liked the concept of this book. It really takes you to what it was like during the this period of the United States. I did think the narrators citing works every couple sentences made it hard to get into the mood at the beginning.

multcolib_alisonk Mar 01, 2017

The story of a beloved boy occupying the space between life and death is astonishing, and painful, and very hard to read - or listen to, as the case may be. The cast of characters performing the story do a meticulous job of portraying the sorrows and degradation of the living and the dead. The problem with audio books is that you can't skim through the more difficult passages, and so the listener has to give herself up to the horrors described by the characters - an interesting parallel to our uneasy relationship with our own mortality.

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