Tag: Megan Mullally

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Posted February 12, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Lincoln in the Bardo by George SaundersTitle: Lincoln in the Bardo (Goodreads)
Author: George Saunders
Published: Bloomsbury, 2017
Pages: 343
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindleWordery (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

George Saunders’ long awaited debut novel has been surrounded by hype, and winning the Man Booker prize only helped to launch this book. Saunders is probably best known for his short stories that often share a vibe similar to the television show Black Mirror. I even called his last collection Tenth of December “contemporary witty, with an element of darkness”. Even comparing it to two other great collections that were released about the same time, Black Vodka by Deborah Levy and Revenge by Yōko Ogawa. Lincoln in the Bardo tells the story of Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The Civil War has been raging for almost a year while the President’s eleven year old son lies in bed gravely ill. Despite the predictions of a full recovery, Willie dies and his body is laid to read in a Georgetown cemetery.

Blending historical data collected while researching this novel, George Saunders blends in a narrative of the afterlife and grief. While the title suggest that Willie Lincoln is in the bardo, the narrative seems to fit more with purgatory. In some schools of Buddhism, bardo is known as the state of existence between death and rebirth, while purgatory is a state of purification before heading to heaven. This distinction is interesting as the characters in this limbo often are unwilling to let go of their physical remains and complete their journey into the afterlife. These characters are often faced with deformities representative of their mortal failures. Saunders does consider himself a student of Nyingma Buddhism but my understanding of theology is primarily Christian, so I tend to interpret the writing with that thought in mind.

The other part of this novel is set around the President and his family as they grieve the loss of Willie. It is here we see a lot of the historical documentation come into play. This includes excerpts from newspapers and biographies. This serves to drive the narrative of grief but also highlights the inconsistencies found in history. What made this book so appealing was the confliction in Abraham Lincoln. While grieving the loss of his own son, he was still responsible for the loss of so many others because of the Civil War. While the American Civil war may have led to many good things, the effects of war were truly felt throughout Lincoln in the Bardo.

The novel is told through different speeches; a narrative that closely resembles a play. This is what makes the audiobook such an alluring option. The publisher put a lot of effort in producing, with a cast of 166 voice actors, including Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Rainn Wilson, Susan Sarandon and George Saunders. I was worried that between the narrative style and the large cast, this would be too much of a gimmick but I think Saunders and the audiobook production managed to never go overboard. However I can understand why this would not work for some readers.

The end result of Lincoln in the Bardo was a dark comedy, ghost story and while I was a little worried (because of all the hype) I am glad my book club made me read this novel. At the moment I prefer George Saunders’ short stories but I can only compare Lincoln in the Bardo with Tenth of December. It does make me curious to try CivilWarLand in Bad Decline or Pastoralia. I know in the future Saunders will continue to be surrounded by hype but I am still interested to see what is next for this author.


Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman

Posted November 7, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Humour, Non-Fiction / 3 Comments

Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick OffermanTitle: Paddle Your Own Canoe (Goodreads)
Author: Nick Offerman
Narrator: Nick Offerman
Published: Penguin, 2013
Pages: 320
Genres: Humour, Non-Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Nick Offerman is best known for playing Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation. This is his first memoir where he muses about life, manliness, wood work and how to best grill meat. Find out about Offerman’s childhood in small town Minooka, Illinois, his love of the theatre, his love of wood work, his wife Megan Mullally and the deadpan comedic style that made him a star.

If you are a Parks and Recreation fan, and in particular a Ron Swanson fan, then this is the book for you. Just to be clear my favourite character is April. Most of Ron Swanson’s quirks and history are taken right out of Nick Offerman’s life so it is almost like learning about the history of the Pawnee Parks Department director.

I got the audiobook of this and I highly recommend you do the same as Offerman narrates this himself. So it feels like Ron Swanson is narrating the book and then you get that Swansonesque chuckle when he tells a joke or a funny story. Listening to Ron Swanson was the best part of the book and I was actually interested in Offerman’s life.

Paddle Your Own Canoe goes further than just talking about Offerman’s life; he also talks about his personal philosophies and what he considers to be the real makings of a man. There is a lot of talk about equality, treating everyone equal, no matter religion, sexuality and so on. It was really interesting to listen to him talk about respect and not being an asshole. I was really impressed with his views on life. not all of them, but he seemed like a really down to earth and stable guy.

When he talks about Megan Mullally is one of my favourite parts. The love he has for his wife and the respect he shows her is beautiful. He talks about their courtship and their marriage and it is all so wonderful I don’t think I could bare it if they ever separated. He is a little sleazy and even tells the reader to Google Megan Mullally’s breasts, but over all you can see how much he adores her.

I didn’t think I would enjoy reading a memoir of an actor, especially a comedian but I thought this was wonderful. I wonder if reading a memoir of a really amazing actor would be as good. This is light hearted, fascinating and surprising. I never thought Nick Offerman would have such a love for the theatre but now I want to see his deadpan style on the stage. Fans of the show or Offerman will love this; I’m not sure about everyone else.