[B]ut the traction of the protests wasn’t just a matter of opportunistically seizing on the choke points in airport layouts. The ways in which airports do work as intended — the way they manage to consistently sustain flow-through for millions of passengers every day, at times facilitating the movement of some at the expense of others — has also played a role.
Saunders’s first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is out this week. Set in a Washington, D.C., graveyard in early 1862, it concerns the agonizing real-life death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son, Willie, and is mostly narrated by ghosts, including Willie’s own. The audiobook version involves 166 voice actors, including such celebrities as Julianne Moore, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, Don Cheadle, and Nick Offerman.
As a plain old book you read yourself, Bardo is profoundly odd, and tough to wrap your head around at first, and often unbearably sad. It’s the best thing he’s ever done. Super doesn’t appear once. The word doesn’t apply much to that period in American history, maybe. Nor does it particularly apply to this one, though Saunders would probably argue the precise opposite.
What stays with you, at the end of “Homesick for Another World,” is less the ugliness than the loneliness and the pervasive sense of disappointment and failure.