Book Reviews: Quarter Three

Oh my gosh, did you know it’s basically already October? How did that even happen?

In Quarter Three, I read a lot of books. 17 to be exact. Unfortunately, I didn’t read very many good books. Several perfectly entertaining but mostly bland. Aside from my continuation through the wide world of Stephen King, there’s really only one book on the list I’d mark as notable -but oh how notable it was.

1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Some books are published knowing they’ll be sensational. Books by creative writing teachers, as George Saunders is, can fall into this category where the ambitious style of weaving historical texts from newspapers and personal diaries to become the novel place it on bestseller and awards lists before it’s even published to the general public. Starting out, you roll your eyes, “Yes, yes this is art or whatever. But is it a good novel?”

And it is. Having read the Greek plays in high school will help you out here where the cast of characters take alternating turns speaking in their voices, every once in a while speaking as that choral group. After the initial setup of the story through the historical texts takes place, Lincoln’s young son has passed away suddenly, the ghosts in the cemetery where he’s buried take the story on instead.

The bardo is a kind of purgatory from Tibetan Buddhism – a place between death and rebirth. The spirits of the dead are suspended here with their newest addition working, as ghosts must, through their past and their uncertain future. A delight if you’ll take the time to read it like poetry as you should, Lincoln in the Bardo walks the knife’s edge of prose so pretty it’s distracting and utterly engrossing passages of want and wonder.

Getting second edition publishing with the Reader’s Guide, one of the questions posed from the author’s perspective goes as follows:

“George Saunders has described the question at the core of this book as, “How do we continue to love in a world in which the objects of our love are so conditional?” Did you find this to be true, and do you feel like you came to a deeper understanding of mortality?”

Well, do you? I do.

2. & 3. IT and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

What is there to say about these books that I haven’t already said about Stephen King? AS always, the horror of the monsters actions is overshadowed by the depth of the characters and the pacing of the story. Both books read in anticipation of the upcoming movies, I don’t want to talk too much about them because I really want you to be entranced by and go read Lincoln in the Bardo. IT is a masterpiece and Doctor Sleep is as befitting a sequel to The Shining as you could hope for.

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