Let’s stay in the nation’s capitol and re-engage with Abraham Lincoln. There was a lot of glowing reviews of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. So much so that I quickly added it to my library “want” list.
Well, turns out, it was not the book for me. It started with the screenplay, staccato format that Saunders employs throughout the book. It is a combination of lines of dialogue and quotes pulled from history books. Just when you get into a rhythm with the the three main voices (characters), you get a chapter with the history quotes. It is hard to build up to a climax when the story keeps getting undercut.
The second issue is that neither Abraham or Willie Lincoln is in the book all that much. The story is about the grief of dying and leaving your mortal coil. But neither gets much time in the pages. I kept wanting to know more about Willie and kept getting pulled away from him. If Saunders wanted to focus on the others stuck in the Bardo, why use Willie Lincoln as just a plot driver?
It is a pity because the idea of a Bardo and how one ends there after death, and how one gets out (if at all), is a good starting point. Easy to populate a universe of characters operating under certain rules known and unknown.
Beer choice, wise, you can’t get too on point than to recommend a beer from the forthcoming Lincoln Beer Company of Burbank. Perhaps the Honeysuckle Session ale that you could sip whilst reading the book.
You could also go for Acoustic Ales Unplugged – Heaven Hill an Imperial Stout with Belgian Chocolate Aged in Heaven Hill whiskey Barrels.
If you want to honor Lincoln’s state, then maybe choose Off Color’s Troublesome Gose to drink while the mischief making ghosts create havoc.