It took George Saunders a while to publish his first novel: The supernatural/historical fiction mashup Lincoln In The Bardo, released earlier this month, follows 20 years of award-winning short fiction, essays, and journalism from the MacArthur Fellow. But it didn’t take long at all for someone to think Lincoln In The Bardo would make a good movie. According to Deadline, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman have purchased the film rights to Lincoln In The Bardo, with Saunders joining them as a producer on the project. Deadline quotes Saunders as saying “My hope is that we can find a way to make the experience of getting this movie made as wild and enjoyable and unpredictable as the experience of writing it—I am so happy to have such fearless companions on the trip.”
“Fearless” is one way to put it. Taking place in a Washington D.C. cemetery during the Civil War, Lincoln In The Bardo depicts the interactions between the spirits of people buried in that cemetery, including Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie. The book has more than 150 narrators, their perspectives arranged in a manner that isn’t too far off from a screenplay. But then there’s the matter of the archival texts intercutting the musings of Willie and his new neighbors. And that’s all before you get into those neighbors’ appearances, like the guy whose marital chastity manifests in the afterlife as a gargantuan erection, or the fellow who regrets everything he didn’t do before slitting his wrists, and thus roams Oak Hill Cemetery sprouting extra eyes and limbs to capture every last sensation and experience. Then again, Offerman and Mullally have never been ones to back down from a puzzle, and they both have prior experience with the material, having joined their friend Saunders in the massive cast of the Lincoln In The Bardo audiobook. For that recording, Offerman plays the guy with the huge schlong, something else he has prior experience with.