In the end, I really liked George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo”. It’s easy to see why it tempted the Booker judges with its vibrancy, pace and structure. Especially its pace.
But I liked it more as a writer than as a reader. I think what Saunders has done here is to open up form in the mainstream. If a narrative like “Bardo” can win the Booker, then everything else has a chance. What might be acceptable as ‘conventional’ is probably a little more broad now. It gives us choices; encourages experimentation.
One thing that surprised me was how the words, at times, seemed less important. If one word or another weren’t in something Bevins or Vollman said would it have made that much difference? If you skipped a couple, did it matter? It was interesting – considering that form was front and centre – that the words became subservient to the narrative.
Maybe I’m smoking something. Maybe it’s always been like that / never been like that…