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Six Reasons George Saunders Should Be Your Date Tonight

A Love Letter to Lincoln in the Bardo

By Sam Eichner
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The way we see it, you have two options tonight:

A) You escort your lovely Valentine’s Day date to a fancy dinner, shower them with gifts and return home to try out that new thing you bought that you felt sort of self-conscious buying at that store.

B) You stay home to devour a tale of love, loss and Tibetan transitional states courtesy of Lincoln in the Bardo, the first novel from one of America’s most celebrated short story writers, George Saunders. It comes out today.

Now, the argument for the former is pretty obvious. The argument for the latter... not so much.

Ergo, just because, here are six reasons staying in to read Lincoln in the Bardo is better than going out for Valentine’s Day.

1) Saunders has been hailed as one of our generation’s most generous and perceptive chroniclers of the human condition. What has your date been hailed as?

2) Saunders is a master at finding love in hopeless places. Like Dubai. And Trump rallies. Let that be an inspiration to you. All Rihanna references made here are completely coincidental, by the way.

3) Here’s a thought-provoking excerpt from an interview Saunders recently gave about the new book: “We seem to be born to love—that seems to be what we do naturally and what we crave to do. And then all along, we sort of know that everything is conditional. So how do you, in this world, live joyfully and productively in the face of those two truths?” Take that, Hallmark (and the capitalist forces that conspire to manufacture an unachievable fairy tale ideal of Love).

4) Massage candles and rose petal baths are great and all, but wouldn’t you rather ensconce yourself in a fictionalized account of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son stuck in a Tibetan transitional state between death and rebirth, and the trials, tribulations and ghosts he must confront therein? Yeah, thought so.

5) If it’s a choice between this and taking your date to see La La Land, consider this: only one of those things was described as a “weird folk art diorama of a cemetery come to life” by Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times. Take that as you will.

6) You totally don’t have to cuddle with Lincoln in the Bardo.

Unless you want to.

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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