I have two books on my nightstand, Shogun by James Clavell and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Both are historical novels, the first an epic adventure story set in feudal Japan in the 1600’s, the second a literary novel centering around the death of President Lincoln’s son, Willie. Both are highly acclaimed.
I began reading them around the same time. The first is 1210 pages, the second 342. Guess which I finished first? Yes, Shogun.
This surprises and disappoints me in some ways. But perhaps it shouldn’t. I had resisted buying, let along reading Bardo, for a long time, despite the fact I’m a huge Saunders’ fan. I fell in love with his short stories in The Tenth of December, especially the title piece and “Victory Lap,” which I wrote about in The Light-Craving Stories of George Saunders.
The reason I resisted reading his first…
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