When I first started seeing the summaries of this book, I thought to myself, “That is absolutely a book that I do not need to read.” Right? I mean, it’s not an era I’m into and I was put off by the “experimental” aspects of it, and also I didn’t want to read a 350 page book about death. Then I was listening to Literary Disco and someone said that it reminded them of Spoon River Anthology, which is one of my favorite books of all time, and I had to read it.
I am so glad that I did.
This was nothing like what I expected. I imagined that it was going to be a difficult read because of the style and that I was going to be confused and that it was probably going to give me panic attacks. Instead, I flew through this book, managing to read 80 pages in one day which I haven’t done since the newborn became an infant. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I actually dreamed about reading it in one sitting, like actual night time dreamed.
Somehow Saunders takes all of these dead people and makes each and every one distinct. It wasn’t long before I didn’t really need to reference who was talking most of the time. The format just kind of disappeared for me. Also, I love it when a book builds so well that you just accept what the author is doing. I never questioned this world that Saunders built because he did it so masterfully.
This is the story of the night of Willie Lincoln’s funeral, when Abraham visits the body twice at the cemetery. It is told by the spirits residing there, some who have decided to stay because they refuse to believe that they are dead and one who happens to know for a fact that he is dead but is still refusing to go. These spirits tell about their lives, stories that they have been telling themselves and anyone who will listen over and over again. When Willie joins them, they see the danger in someone so young staying and begin the job of convincing him to go.
This book was amazing. I really did love it. It was funny at times and it was heartbreaking at times. It was hard to put down and I have a feeling that I will be thinking about it for a long time.