Iain Banks
The Bridge (1986)
Reviewed: 2002-11-04

For most of its length, this is one weird book. A man appears to lie in a coma after a car crash. Cut. Another man, or maybe the same man, is an amnesic patient living on the bridge. He doesn't remember his name or his prior life. The bridge is an enormous edifice, with no beginning or end in sight, a self-contained little world of unknown extension. Life on the bridge is governed by an enormous bureaucracy, a quagmire that stalls any attempts to learn more about the bridge and the world that may surround it. Everyday existence and personal events are punctured by surreal experiences. The man makes up dreams to satisfy his psychiatrist, but then he starts to lose control over his bizarre visions. Cut. We witness the early adult life of another man, or maybe the same as the first or second, in Scotland, his education, work, and relationships.

As the book progresses, similarities between the different parts become evident, but what their exact connection is remains elusive until the final resolution. There, I said it. Mentioning that there is a resolution may be a considered a spoiler of sorts, or it may be required for some people to even finish the book. To readers familiar with the author, The Bridge is a very Banksian book. Among other trademarks, the author indulges wildly in his favorite obsession, trains, and of course the eponymous structure is a train bridge.

Ambitious and unusual.

Home Page | Review Index | Latest Reviews

Generated: 2009-12-10

Christian "naddy" Weisgerber <naddy@mips.inka.de>