(by George Saunders).
Saunders’ first novel, a heroic retelling of the death and laying to rest of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, chops and hops, like a play or the flea on a dead man’s nose, commented on by a Greek chorus of the dead and the living. Contrived though it is (the voices include the obligatory offended-against homosexual, mulatto slave and illiterate), Saunders gathers all together in a tender and mellifluous rotting pyre, at the centre of which Lincoln (handsome, homely, noble, ignoble, guilty, arrogant) burns, while others fly and roil like sparks around him. The enveloping Images of horror and grief are well-leavened by reflections on the beauty of the world and the goodness of redemption, and, best of all, by the hilarious, f—–g, G—–n, s—-y, a—–e Baron couple. Read it for those f—–s, if nothing else.