Richard Russo, The Bridge of Sighs

Having enjoyed Russo’s novel, Empire Falls, I decided to read deeper into his list by picking up The Bridge of Sighs. The book is one long train running. Like a train, it takes a while to get up to speed. Also like a train, it has many compartments. It starts with a first-person narrative as one of the main characters (a man who has had the nickname “Lucy” since first grade) writes a memoir mixed with a town history. The story then skips to his boyhood friend (“Noonan”), who left town at the end of high school and has never returned. This sets up the central framework of the book.

Through the course of the narrative, the reader meets most everyone in the small town of Thomastown, New York. Lucy and his relationships reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly of life in a one-company town. His naive father, his prescient mother, his rascally uncle, are the early people in his life. However, as he grows up he exists in a decaying place. Ultimately, he and Noonan part a couple of times, the second time for good when Noonan has to escape the law.

Like Empire Falls, this Russo book pries into the deepest recesses of people’s lives. He changes perspective in order to reveal different points of view of the same incident. This is where the story can be very powerful. However, at times the repetition grows tedious. Either way, Russo will take you on a long ride that can be insightful and enjoyable.

Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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