Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

There are songs that come free from the blue-eyed grass, from the dust of a thousand country roads.

I think the author is confusing poetry for prose. In the next sentence we get the rather haughty statement that this story before us is a song that came free from the blue-eyed grass - whatever that means. This is artsy-fartsy at its loudest.

It goes on with some unknown narrator talking about this story and how he came across it with plenty of back story and description. The most exciting thing that happens on these opening pages is that ink spilled onto the paper. Insomniacs- we have your cure here!

Chapter 1:

Robert Kincaid

On the morning of August 8, 1965, Robert Kincaid locked the door to his small two-room apartment on the third floor of a rambling house in Bellingham, Washington.

The first chapter is titled with the name of the person who is then promptly mentioned in the opening line. Sounds a little redundant. Anyway, so this is the inciting event. A character is leaving his home and going somewhere, presumably to the plot of the book. In any case, it is a fairly unremarkable sentence, though in its defense, it does provide some useful data, like a name, a date and a town.

First thing said:

"I might get a dog then."

This Robert says to the setting around him, in other words, he's taking to himself, which I think reveals something about the character, which is something dialogue should do. The earlier the better.

The opening of this short novel (there are toilet paper rolls that are longer) reads more like a series of snapshots than a series of events - which is, when you get down to it, what a story is.

Honestly, I kept reading this to find out what all the fuss is about, and even though it is a very short book, a novella really, to this day, years later, I have never finished it, and as you can see from the verdict below, I never will. I would rather lick a brick.

Verdict: Fail

Rudy Globird

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