Douglas Adams once wrote, “The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied.” While some would call Myers-Briggs psychological typing complete and utter nonsense, I think it is, at the very least, an interesting way to categorize people, regardless if it’s true or right. I am an INTJ: one of the rational types, the mastermind, the one who figures out how everything works and why. The last thing one of us would do is “hang the sense of it,” but it’s a necessary skill for survival, no? Many of the most influential writers to me—Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and Emily Brontë, to name a few—are also INTJs, non-sense-hanging lovers of everything rational. But we’ve adapted to survive, we’ve adapted to write. Lewis Carroll took it the farthest, obviously, but there’s an element of the absurd, an embrace of it even, in all their work. Because, let’s face it: people are absurd. There’s no getting around that fact. (more…)
George Saunders’s critically-acclaimed first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is the story Abraham Lincoln’s recently deceased son, Willie, and the events that preceded and followed his death. Set primarily in the graveyard in which Willie is buried, this novel is told from the perspective of multiple other people, some real and some fictional, some alive and some dead, with very few pages of Willie’s own perspective. It is the story of a grieving man, a loyal son, and some hopelessly obstinate ghosts.
Slight spoilers ahead. (more…)