Excerpt from Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Lincoln in the Bardo

by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
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  • Published:
    Feb 2017, 368 pages

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Kim Kovacs

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XXI.

   Mouth at the worm's ear, Father said:

   We have loved each other well, dear Willie, but now, for reasons we cannot understand, that bond has been broken. But our bond can never be broken. As long as I live, you will always be with me, child.

   Then let out a sob

   Dear Father crying   That was hard to see   And no matter how I patted & kissed & made to console, it did no

   You were a joy, he said. Please know that. Know that you were a joy. To us. Every minute, every season, you were a—you did a good job. A good job of being a pleasure to know.

   Saying all this to the worm!   How I wished him to say it to me   And to feel his eyes on me   So I thought, all right, by Jim, I will get him to see me   And in I went   It was no bother at all   Say, it felt all right   Like I somewhat belonged in

   In there, held so tight, I was now partly also in Father

   And could know exactly what he was

   Could feel the way his long legs lay   How it is to have a beard   Taste coffee in the mouth and, though not thinking in words exactly, knew that the feel of him in my arms has done me good. It has. Is this wrong? Unholy? No, no, he is mine, he is ours, and therefore I must be, in that sense, a god in this; where he is concerned I may decide what is best. And I believe this has done me good. I remember him. Again. Who he was. I had forgotten some¬what already. But here: his exact proportions, his suit smelling of him still, his forelock between my fingers, the heft of him familiar from when he would fall asleep in the parlor and I would carry him up to—

   It has done me good.

   I believe it has.

   It is secret. A bit of secret weakness, that shores me up; in shoring me up, it makes it more likely that I shall do my duty in other matters; it hastens the end of this period of weakness; it harms no one; therefore, it is not wrong, and I shall take away from here this resolve: I may return as often as I like, telling no one, accepting whatever help it may bring me, until it helps me no more.

   Then Father touched his head to mine.

   Dear boy, he said, I will come again. That is a promise.
willie Lincoln

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Excerpted from Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Copyright © 2017 by George Saunders. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Note from BookBrowse: This excerpt has been reproduced as closely as possible to the book including punctuation and layout. While this idiosyncratic style might strike readers as challenging, it is actually surprisingly easy to follow in the book.

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