Abraham Lincoln’s young son passed away while he was president, and he spent time in the mausoleum with the body, a very unusual thing to do during this time. There was documentation of Lincoln, of his life and behaviour, and on the death of his son, but apparently much was conflicting. Sanders has fashioned part of this book from quotes from these accounts, and then has created a mystical world full of the dead who have not yes passed to the afterlife.
In this way, it’s a hard book to explain, but as with much of Sanders’ writing, it’s poetic and mysterious and totally wonderful. When I read this, I started a couple of times, but kept putting it down until I could really dedicate time to reading it, because it took me a bit to get into the style. And then I just fell into it and loved it. Sometimes, I didn’t quite get what was happening, and some parts I still didn’t really get until I heard it on the audio book.
If you’re contemplating this book, I would highly recommend the audio book. The cast is amazing (David Sedaris, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Rainn Wilson, Susan Sarandon and the list goes on) and the way it has been produced works so well with the text.
I chose this book because it won the Man Booker Prize last year, and I have found that I have really enjoyed several of the past winners. Bah. This book really annoyed me. It’s about a guy I don’t care about and a couple of his mates who I also don’t care about. Both his mates (one an ex-college classmate, the other a former teacher) are Jewish. He’s not. And then it rambles on for about three hundred pages about to be or not to be Jewish. And then it ends.
I just don’t get it. Perhaps I am not educated enough on the Israel/Palestine situation, or perhaps it is just that, by not being Jewish, I don’t get the difference between being Jewish and not. I don’t know. To me, people are people regardless of religion, race or education.
What I really don’t get is that everyone (being the reviewers on the back, plus several online reviewers) calls this a funny book. I don’t think I even cracked a smile – and, as anyone who knows me, I laugh at everything. Often, even not very funny things. Even Jonathan Safran Foer loved it, and I love his writing. His writing makes me laugh; his writing made me laugh out loud on my own in the foyer of a hotel in Estonia.
Having said that, according to the Wikipedia entry, most Amazon reviews are negative, suggesting that the reviewers and etc. are seeing something different to the average reader.
Have you read it? Did you get it? Did it make you laugh? Please comment, I’d love to know what you think.