Matryoshka, I guess I didn't see the overall message as grimly or as depressingly as you did. I think the message I took away was that the dead still want to be remembered & loved, so I saw it as an exhortation to remember your loved ones who have passed. Yeah, it was sort-of dark & grim & sad in places, but the ending message to me was one of care & love. I think it also addresses the universal reality of death & its impact on individuals, families, communities, countries, & the world (because it addressed a single child's death but also made points about the huge number of deaths related to war).
I'm not sure how 'care and love' and 'you should remember your loved ones who have passed' can be a message of a book that purports that (spoilers in white)
- unless your life has been somehow perfect, all you have left is eternal torture. Even for the preacher, who sacrifices himself for the girl who's already been tortured for years, knowing that in doing so he's himself going to eternal torture. The picture he saw through the door is clear. And it is never mentioned anywhere that he did anything in his life to deserve that - he wasn't a hypocrite or anything. It was never implied that he'd been anything but a good man in life, as he was also as a ghost.
- You get to choose between that and eternity in the Bardo
- Innocent scared kids get tortured eternally if they stay. Do they at least get to go to paradise if they move on? Unclear.
- Lincoln's grief and remembering his son are what make him not want to move on, which without the intervention of the other ghosts would directly have resulted in his being tortured for eternity. So remembering and grieving your dead child may cause him eternal torment.
The more I think about all that, the more it bothers me. If the book had not been rather explicit in what happens to them after they 'move on', if it had left it unclear or implied that it was good and right for them to move on and that things would (or even might) be better there (rather than giving us the scene with the preacher); if grief and remembrance of a dead child made him feel comforted instead of conflicted and (literally) tortured, I'd have felt differently...
In fact, especially with the last point, it seems to say that remembering the dead is harmful to them. I found the whole thing odd.
I don't ever listen to audio books but this is one I've considered revistiting in audio format since it has one of the largest (or the largest?) audio casts ever. 166 audio/voice actors.
Well, I did listen to the audio, and it was well done.
ETA: And perhaps I should make it clear that I didn't think all this while I was listening to the book, which did have many warm and funny moments. It was more after it ended and I thought about it all together and I realized the implications of all the stuff in white above that it started to really annoy me...
Edited by Matryoshka, 18 October 2017 - 03:55 PM.