Just what is a Bardo?

“My goodness, I thought, poor fellow! You did not give this place a proper chance, but fled it recklessly, leaving behind forever the beautiful things of this world. And for what? You do not know. A most unintelligent wager.”

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the BardoWas the moon full? Or was the night pitch black on the night that Lincoln’s son crossed over the divide that night, leaving his parents for the Bardo. The guests at the party remember the night differently. Their perception is their reality.

The same seems true for the souls residing in the Bardo. Some know they are half-dead. Others feel sure that they remain half-living. This is a halfway land between our world and the next. They are trapped until a flash of inevitability reveals that they must take the path to where it fully ends, to where they end. “We say these things to speed you along.”

George Saunders fills his halfway land of the Bardo with characters, oddities, love, war, laughter, passion, and horror. It sounds a lot like our crowded crazy living world. He is telling us that we remain who we are when we die. Death does not excuse us or change us. If we want to be different when dead, we must morph today into who we want to be on our last day.

#OneNightstand. #ReadThisBook. I see why George Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo ranks among the best books last year. By the way, the audio version of this book is fantastic.

P.S. I had to look up the word “bardo” before reading the book. I guess that’s why we read, so we can learn something new.

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