Monday, December 7, 2015
Review: "Bridge of Sighs" by Richard Russo
I expect many things when I read a novel by Richard Russo. Whether it is good, like his best books Nobody’s Fool and Mohawk, I get a warm and fuzzy glimpse into hardworking, rough living community that thrives on an undercurrent of mutual respect and dignity. When his books are okay, like Straight Man or The Risk Pool, I still feel all warm and fuzzy inside, in a totally earned way. But Bridge of Sighs is something of a different beats, and now that I have let 24 hours pass since reading it, I can forgive some of its lesser qualities. It is his longest book for sure, the paperback clocking in at a whopping 641 pages, and it tends to drag frequently, especially towards the end, in what I think the book’s big reveal is (not so is much an opinion but a theory I have on the narrative). But the book’s bright moments, which are numerous, make up for the book’s tedium. The main character, one of Russo’s typical brooding, weirdly named males, Louis Charles Lynch, nicknamed Lucy, has lived in the small upstate New York town of Thomaston all his life, for better and for worse. He loves his wife Sarah deeply, and runs a few successful grocery stores he inherited from his father. He is writing his life story, and in doing so, tries to reconnect with Bobby Marconi, known in the beginning as Noonan, a reckless but successful artist in Venice who left town and never looked back. The real treat in this book is the first few hundred pages, which are filled with vivid recollections of Lucy’s childhood with Bobby, from Bobby’s epic fight with the town bully, to a rather tragic fight with horrific racial undertones and violence matching the notebook scene in Straight Man. The books really falls flat toward the end, in the might-be reveal and the introduction of an unnecessary third narrator, but with Russo, at least for me, the experience is one that is never less than entertaining and enlightening.