I saw George Saunders last week! I saw George Saunders last week! I saw George Saunders last week!
Super cool. Him, not me! Dug the ponytail too, George!
As I wrote somewhere, he’s just like you and me except he’s a genius and, at least and sadly, I am not.
He’s intensely relatable, and I love a Chicagoan. Even a South Sider, who, of course, did not even mention the Cubs’ World Series win as only a South Sider would not!
Anyway, he was scared, nervous and tentative to write a long work of fiction just like any of us would be or maybe more so. He stewed and marinated on this piece since his twenties. Actually, he described a manuscript he wrote back then loosely based on a wedding he and his wife attended on a beach in Mexico. It was titled La Boda de Eduardo (Edward’s Wedding). So truly awful that after he gave it to his loving and supportive wife to read and spied on her a few minutes later when she was on page six, he found her face in her hands leaving him mortified. No wonder he never ventured into this realm until now. Of course, he has license to do whatever he wants at this point and Lincoln in the Bardo was written in the three months following the release of the amazing Tenth of December as an experiment to see if it would/could amount to anything. Methinks he will never doubt himself again, but I know nothing.
Back to the book event. The reading was performed by six people including George so each ghost’s part was read by a different person as well as the literary references and a narrator. It was perfect and a passage I particularly was drawn to. So poignant.
Unsolicited, Saunders answered a question I had regarding my discomfort with format especially as it related to the ghostly dialog. When a ghost is “speaking”, whose voice is indicated post-colloquy. After a while, I adjusted and let the prose flow over me without obsessing over who was speaking at all times. He did this on purpose, by the way. “Ghosts are confusing, aren’t they?” Says he.
When it was my turn at the table, he promptly stuck out his hand, “Hi, I’m George!!!” Me, “Of course, you are! I’m Gina.”
He inscribed his favorite word of the moment, “Disenthrall”, in my copy because I asked him to. Then he recited in passage with fist raised high, “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” (A quote from an address by Lincoln).
I told him my twenty-three year old son played Lincoln in third grade, to which he replied, “That must have been so cute.” Then pointed out that he signed my son’s copy, “To Matthew, aka Lincoln”
But you came here to see what I am reading, so here goes!
What have I recently finished?
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
What am I currently reading?
Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick; Enigma Variations by Andre Aciman; You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (writer for the amazing Amy Schumer) via audiobook.
What’s coming up?
Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett because he is coming to Chicago Humanities Festival April 30th; The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes; Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich, which is my new book club pick for April.
Good stuff!!! What’s going on in your reading world?