Bridge of Clay … a review

I liked ‘The Book Thief’ reasonably well. I thought it was a good read and as a reader, some elements of it really touched my soul. And then, I was fortunate to catch Markus Zusak at EdBookFest last year taking about Bridge of Clay. This book has been 2 decades in the making. And since I hadn’t read any other books by the author, this one seemed a natural choice.

The story follows the lives of 5 Dunbar brothers, of whom Clay is one. The book is a story of their lives and their times through darkness and light. Many characters in the form of parents, pets, friends and lovers come and go. But fundamentally, it is a story of family and relationships. I was actually pretty disappointed with this book.

The writing is too metaphorical. I know that is a strange thing to say, but if you read a sample chapter, you will see what I mean. Take for example, this quote:

“The town itself was a hard, distant storyland; you could see it from afar. There was all the straw-like landscape, and marathons of sky. Around it, a wilderness of low scrub and gum trees stood close by, and it was true, it was so damn true: the people sloped and slouched.”

It’s beautifully written, there’s a real sense here of what the town is like, and it is evocative. But imagine all 600 pages written in prose like this! No, we do not need descriptions like that all the time, nor narration. The nuggests of the story are nice, but the writing is just too weird.

I have a feeling that this book might be better as an Audiobook – it has an airy-fairy quality and should perhaps be heard slowly. Anyway, the author himself has read it for the audiobook, so perhaps you should give that a go. As for Zusak, sure I will read his other books, but perhaps I will try a sample out first!

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