The novel is well known and honored, I won't bother to recap it. It is not exactly uplifting stuff, but it is compelling and brilliantly evoked. The reader is top-notch. So why not five stars? It's just something about the bleakness of it all that makes you keep your distance a bit -- you don't volunteer to take the dog for a walk just so you can listen some more. But it is the last word on apocalyptic fiction and definitley worth your time.
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.
Bloated, full of meandering, rhythmic sentences that fail to coalesce into a whole greater than its parts. There's no suspense about what might happen, who Frank will turn out to be. After Independence Day and the Sportswriter, two of my favorite novels of the past 20 years, a major letdown.
Narration is generally good -- except when it comes to dialogue by characters who are deemed to need distinctive accents (a southern woman who Frank "sponsors", Londoners, Frank's daughter, ...). These accents are over the top and painful ... sometimes less IS more.
Jay (Joyce's husband)
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