2008: 69. Bridge of Sighs

“First, the facts.

My name is Louis Charles Lynch.  I am sixty years old, and for nearly forty of those years I’ve been a devoted if not terribly exciting husband to the same lovely woman, as well as doting father to Owen, our son, who is now himself a grown, married man.”

Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo

This is Richard Russo’s latest, and while it touches on many of the same themes as his earlier books, and takes a while to get going, I quite enjoyed it.  Like many of his other books (Nobody’s Fool, Empire Falls), it takes place in a fading mill town (here it’s upstate New York), and the protagonist is a man who grew up there and never quite made it out.  Unlike the other books, though, Louis “Lucy” Lynch doesn’t curse the fate (or in the case of Empire Falls,  lack of agency) that kept him stuck in the town he grew up in.   Lucy loves his town, loves his life, loves living there.  The book is the story of him looking back on his childhood from the age of sixty, and how he ended up where he has.  Interspersed with the story are occasional chapters by Lucy’s childhood friend Bobby, who has left and become a famous artist, living in Venice.  

I found the story a little sluggish at the beginning - to the point where Bobby’s chapters were a relief from Lucy’s ramblings.  However, by the middle, when I understood Lucy’s character more, I appreciated how Russo had carefully set up his characters.  The plot details are reasonably interesting, but I what I really enjoyed was the people he invented, particularly Lucy, the sweet, shambling man who just wanted to be happy in his life with the people he loved.  His desires and needs compared to those of Bobby, (and of his own wife who felt both ways), and the difference between getting out and seeing the world and (for lack of a better phrase) blooming where you’re planted, caught my fancy.  The book is long, and could have been more tightly edited, and it is all character, so if you find Lucy to be more dim than interesting (which is what I thought at first, until I got into it) you might not enjoy the book.  However, I enjoyed pondering the kind of man that Lucy was (which is not to say I didn’t appreciate it when the plot picked up a bit at the end, either).

Date/Place Completed: 5/24/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017