Willie Lincoln was only 11 when he died in February 1862 of typhoid fever. The Lincolns' third son was said to be their favorite, and after Willie was interred in a borrowed mausoleum in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, his father, Abraham Lincoln, returned to that cemetery several times. Newspapers reported that the president visited the crypt to open his son's coffin and hold his body. It's that image, of Lincoln cradling the corpse of his beloved son in a PietÃ pose, that inspires George Saunders' first novel, called Lincoln in the Bardo.
By refusing to serve up even one likable main character, Zoe Heller's new novel raises implicit questions about readers' expectations about fiction. Reviewer Maureen Corrigan calls The Believers a "smart, caustic novel."
Film critic John Powers reviews ."My Son the Fanatic." Miramax Films describes it as a contemporary love story set against a comic clash of generations and cultures. Eastern fundamentalism meets Western hedonism over the kitchen table of a Pakistani family in the industrial north.
Film critic Stephen Schiff reviews "Before and After" the new film starring Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson. . . This will be Stephen's last Fresh Air film review. He'll be going on to a new career in screenwriting. His adaptation for "Lolita" will hit the screen this Fall.