Wednesday, March 8, 2017

George Saunders' "Lincoln in the Bardo": Audiobook Review

Lincoln in the Bardo Audiobook
"The American Book of the Dead"
If you could sum up Lincoln in the Bardo in three words, what would they be?
Disorienting. Deceptive. Daunting.

Who was your favorite character and why?
I liked the Reverend. While his role is less distinctive than the twinned main tellers, he takes longer to be noticed. But, halfway on, his appearance and the reason for it become evident. This displays nimbly Saunders' skill at delaying information until it's truly needed in fiction.

Have you listened to any of the narrators' other performances before? How does this one compare?
As so many narrate this (166), I can only refer to the main two tellers, Nick Offerman and David Sedaris. The hearty, but measured, turns of the former and the soft, sibilant delivery of the latter grace this collection of voices well, and they are particularly remarkable for their tone.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Many, especially Ch. 37. The beauty of the language may sound cliched, but the manner in which Saunders conjures up the poignant and the perverse makes for quite the combination.

Any additional comments?
I'd read the novel first. Hearing this without some preparation may discourage the faint of heart explorer of one of the most complex narrations ever attempted by a major modern writer. Considering the dreck that wins awards and shoves aside works of merit like this on the shelves, the recent attention earned by George Saunders is an encouraging harbinger. (Audible US 3/6/17)

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