I am a huge Russo fan (Nobody's Fool and Straight Man are two all-time favorites, and Empire Falls deserved its Pulitzer) ... but Bridge of Sighs is ponderous. I wish I could blame the narration but the reader (Morey) is not the problem.
Russo's special gift is characters who are real and multi-dimensional, and the deft way he reveals them. They combine lovable and hateful traits. This never seems like inconsistency, but like the natural complexity we find in real people when we get to know them.
Another Russo gift is dead-on humor. It emerges from wry dialogue and description that is captured so perfectly, you can't help but smile or laugh in recognition.
Alas, both gifts are missing here. Characters are assigned personality types, and even after 27 hours of audio time, they stay typecast. There is a World Famous Artist Living Out His Anger Abroad, and a Small Town Worshipper of the Status Quo Who Stays Home, and each has the traits you’d expect and none you wouldn't. It feels as if Russo is trying to tell a Big Important Story, and foregoes rich, complex characters in favor of archetypes. And he seems to find little room for humor and wit in this Big Important Story.
If you haven't read Russo, you really should. He's great. Just don't sample him via Bridge of Sighs.
Small towns like Thomston may be dying, but Russo find the grace and dignity in those deaths. Far from maudlin, a story of decay becomes a story of triumph.
I have read (or listened to) most of Richard Russo's novels, and I would have to rate this as my least favorite. While many of his books feature quite hapless protaganists, Bridge of Sighs seems little more than an extended character study. One is left with sense that you are waiting for book to begin, but it never does. Perhaps the greatest disapointment is I found the book almost devoid of humor, and his attempts in this direction seemed forced and contrived.
I just love a good drama. Have you ever seen Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf with Elizabeth Taylor. It is one of my favirite movies. Two hours of film, one night of time elapses, the movie barely leaves one room, and the dialogue is incredible.
OK so now to this book. The book is one of thoes go nowhere stories. It is all about the lives of a few characters. We are taken into their past to explain their present. After so many hour of listening we should be totally enveloped in their phycosis. But I was not.
The book just fell flat. It never quite made me squirm or feel for any one of them.
The only character that intrigued me was Bobby, a kinda "sex on a stick" guy, someone that everyone is drawn to with equal and intimate desire.
And even with Bobby there was just no real finish. Ya know what I mean?