Saturday, June 9, 2007

Between the Bridge and the River, by Craig Ferguson

Ferguson manages, in spare and funny prose, to sketch several characters who are distinctively different from one another, and then take them all on crazy journeys that ultimately, as you might expect, bring them together. What you may not expect is the crazy-quilt approach to time: references in one person's life refer to experiences yet to happen to another. But not always.

And you might not expect so many offhanded comments to be so very funny. At times I broke out laughing out loud, alone in the room. Good thing I wasn't sitting in Starbucks at the time. Even when the writing seems dead serious it still has a little edge, a prickle, of humor. It could be just that Ferguson doesn't waste any time. He can sum up a life in three sentences and it will be enough. This condensed form of writing nicely compacts the humor as well, which means more bang for the buck.

Most of the characters are running from something, although as the author is quick to point out, "running" is not to be taken literally. Some of them have never run in their lives. The chief runner turns out to be Fraser, a Scottish television evangelist who has to take off to escape well-deserved bad press about his sex life. He lands in Florida and the real journey begins. After a lengthy episode inside his own soul (you had to be there) Fraser takes off again, touching other lives in a way that may remind you of someone else.

Other characters include religious snake handlers, gay gangsters, and a choir of ultra-large songstresses, which suggests that the religious theme permeates the book, which it does, in its own bizarre way.

What I didn't expect was that the story would settle into a moral tale. Some reviewers have said such things as "profane on its surface, ethical at its core", which perhaps describes it well enough. I felt it became a little heavy-handed about this time, but the book continued to be full of delightful images right up to the end.

Four out of five stars.

1 comment:

Dewey said...

I love funny books almost more than anything else, so this MUST be added to my wishlist. Thanks!