The Cost of This Lie

What a book!


The king-types who would snatch the apple from your hand and claim to have grown it, even though what they had, had come to them intact, or been gained unfairly (the nature of that unfairness perhaps being just that they had been born stronger, more clever, more energetic than others), and who, having seized the apple, would eat it so proudly, they seemed to think that not only had they grown it, but had invented the very idea of fruit, too, and the cost of this lie fell on the hearts of the low.”

If you’re looking for a terrific book, one that will make you feel deeply in ways you cannot even imagine before you begin reading it, buy Lincoln in the Bardo, the newest work by George Saunders.

It’s based on historical fact: the death of 11-year-old Willie Lincoln, in the White House, as his father is dealing with the carnage and very real possibility of a Union loss in the early years of the Civil War.

Lincoln, overcome by grief, visits Willie’s tomb, twice, alone, late on the night of his funeral.

From this truth, a tale is spun that will have you unexpectedly laughing out loud, and seeping tears a few pages later.

Mixing actual quotes from historical characters with imagined conversations from characters Saunders has created to help tell his story, he’s almost created a new genre.

Across the sea fat kings watched and were gleeful, that something begun so well had now gone off the rails, and if it went off the rails, so went the whole kit, forever, and if someone ever thought to start it up again, well, it would be said, (and said truly): The rabble cannot manage itself.

George Saunders is my favorite American author. He finds a path to compassion in the most unsavory characters, not forgiving their flaws but allowing us to see them in a softer light. It’s a rare gift.

Seeing how he accomplishes this can help you shape content on your show.

But, it’s the bigger impact on your life, on your view of our world that Saunders — and I — are after.

And, just based on the quotes above, you would think he was writing about what’s happening right now in our politics.

This is a book that will expand your heart. I hope you love it as much as I did.