Jun 03, 09
Read in May, 2009
I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction that doesn't get shelved in the children's section, so I happened into Richard Russo in a backward way. It began with reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I loved the story-crafting, the setting, the language, the characters, everything about Wroblewski's masterpiece. I looked for more information about Wroblewski and read this in a review by Janet Maslin of the New York Times: "Mr. Wroblewski happens to have borrowed, here and there, from Rudyard Kipling, William Shakespeare, Richard Russo, Stephen King and the 1934 dog-breeding book “Working Dogs.”' That is what got me interested in Russo. If he was a source of inspiration for Wroblewski than I wanted to read his work. Even more so after learning that Russo worked with Wroblewski at an early stage in Wroblewski's writing career.
So I picked up Bridge of Sighs. And I was just as captivated by the intimate details of setting and the rich development of complex, evolving characters in Russo's work as I was in Wroblewski's. If anything, Russo takes us even further into his character's lives. In Bridge of Sighs we understand and feel the weight of each character's personal history and psychology, and see the motivations that both bring characters together and pull them apart. Bridge of Sighs doesn't have the mythical feeling that emanates from Edgar Sawtelle, but there is an earthy realness that is itself rare and illuminating. It's a novel I would highly recommend.