That is basically how I felt reading this book. I didn't care about the characters, I barely cared about the plot, even the little side plots that tried to intertwine with history and give the big nerds out there a giggle made me shrug. It's not a BAD book, but I didn't find it that great either.
A hilarious religious novel. At first I thought it was a collection of short stories because the first three chapters didn't seem to have anything to do with each other, but it turned out that the threads connected along the way. Fraser and George grew up together. Fraser becomes a Televangelist in Scotland. George becomes a Good Guy who gets cancer and realizes that's really pretty much all he is. The other main thread follows Saul and Leon, brothers who grew up in an orphanage, run away and end up founding a religious group that asks Fraser to a big conference in Atlanta. How he gets there and how Saul and Leon come to start their group is explored in the following chapters with brief check-ins with George. I really admire the writing style, particularly the asides in which the author tells us things about the characters, their ancestors, and odd connections between them and then says, "of course he didn't know that." There are myriad literary and pop culture references, but he veils them in an amusing way: a starlet called Meg Roberts, a playwright called Anthony Boyd-Webster, etc.I really want there to be a sequel to this, as I feel like it wasn't quite resolved, however I don't know that there's enough material for a whole 'nother book, maybe one that features or cameos some of these characters. I don't know. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it.
Sometimes I start composing my Goodreads reviews in my head as I'm reading. In this case, I started off thinking that Ferguson's experience as a drummer and a comic are evident in his writing. The first chapter is delightfully rhythmic; it almost begs to be read aloud. His characterizations of young George and Fraser are brisk, efficient and spot-on. There was definite 5-star potential here. After a couple of chapters, though, I realized that this was reminding me more and more of A Confederacy of Dunces. I hated that book. I couldn't quite put my finger on the similarities (probably because I've tried to purge Dunces from my memory), but it probably has to do with the meandering, often absurd plot, plus an almost total lack of character development. Ferguson has a gift for capturing the essence of his characters in just a sentence or two, but then simply throws events at them -- like crafting a lovely pinata only to spend the rest of the day whacking it with a broomstick. Which I suppose is the point of a pinata, and which I also suppose is why this novel kinda works anyway. Recommended for anyone who liked Dunces.
Irreverent and satirical. A carnival of preachers, actors, lovers, story tellers and Carl Jung, this novel is reminiscent of John Kennedy O'Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Between the bridge and the river one finds redemption.
I loved this book and couldn't believe A. that it came from TV's Craig Ferguson and B. that he hasn't written more books because he really needs to. I was completely blown away by this book, it had so many layers to it and so many ideas about spirituality, identity, existentialism, relationships. It could have easily went overboard and been bogged down by the various narratives, but somehow the interwoven storylines all came together to form a book that I can easily call one of my favorite reads ever. I would and have highly recommended it to others and just writing this makes me want to read it again.
This is, in a lot of respects, the novel I wish I had the talent to have written. Ferguson explores several fascinating themes while refraining from passing judgment on his characters. Here's what I had to say in my literary blog about "Between the Bridge and the River":Fraser, a Scottish TV evangelist, leaves for America ahead of a career-destroying scandal. George, an estranged friend of his from childhood, is dying. Leon and Saul are transient brothers, trading on the former's charisma and talent and the latter's conniving to break into Hollywood. Uniting them are a series of events, the full meaning of which is only revealed to the reader.First-time author Ferguson weaves a fascinating tale of what he calls, "unexpected redemption." The pace of the novel is brisk, helped along by the brevity of the chapters (some are a mere two pages). In fact, at times it feels more like a collection of vignettes than a traditional novel; one can easily see Ferguson dashing off a chapter here or there, as his schedule and inspiration permitted. Given the philosophical and emotional density of some of the passages, it's actually nice to be able to turn the page and find a conveniently placed stopping point.There are some distractions throughout; Ferguson replaces real-life names of entertainment people and businesses with fictitious knock-offs (for obvious reasons). It might be impractical to cast either Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts in the novel, but the fictitious name Meg Roberts (an "America's sweetheart" type actress) is a bit of a speed bump in the middle of this story. In fact, I found myself frequently wishing to get through the passages devoted to Leon and Saul and return to those relating to George and Fraser. George's self-examination in light of impending death (and his unexpected affair with the alluring and captivating French Claudette) touches on one of the most important themes of them all: potential. Fraser, meanwhile, has his own epic story (including a recurring dream in which Carl Jung appears to him to analyze what's going on with him). In many ways, Fraser's story recalls Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and that's never a bad thing.
My Rating: A+My Review:This book is about spirituality, not necessarily religion. It's about good and evil, but not as a big monster and a great hero, but about the good and evil in humanity. It's about growing up and changing and dealing with what life hands you and sucking it up and getting over it, after wallowing in self pity for a while.Between the Bridge and the River caught me completely off guard. Coming from Craig Fergusson, I expected rowdy hilarity, some sex jokes and a lot of great fun. These were all components of this book but I was not expecting the complete depth that is offered in this text. It's a bit dark and quite literary, with some of the best writing I've read. It reminded me of Douglas Coupland's work and also of Christopher Moore, in the sense that you think you're being carried along happily on a funny train and then all of a sudden, you're really thinking.Only one thing bothered me in this novel, and that was a beautiful phrase that at first was like a huge dramatic sigh and it fit perfectly, but it was used over and over again and I'm not sure if it was suppose to be like that, or if he just didn't realize how often it was used, but it was a bit like beating a dead horse by the end.Other than that, this book was pure perfection and I absolutely can't wait for Craig to write another one.
I bought it because I've always liked Craig, and was pleasantly surprised. It's clearly a first novel; there are a lot of clumsy passages, and parts of it seem overly smug, but it's quite funny. One of the reviewers compared it to a Vonnegut (which I don't know if I want to go into on lj, at least not on this post, but: ) novel, which I think was overstating it a bit, but it's true that there's a confessional tone to the book, like he wrote it not just to tell a story but to work out his own issues and let other people look on while he does, that is similar to a lot of Vonnegut's work. I enjoyed Ferguson's novel particularly, because I love when books begin with a string of unrelated characters and events and then wrap them all up in the end; where you can re-read the book and notice all the parallels and hints and nods and continuity. I like puzzles and I like things fitting neatly together, but also, I like that it very obviously shows that a lot of care and thought was put into the writing of the book.