A little over a week ago I realized I was two squares short of completing a second bingo column, the book club pick and something from the So Popular! category. My downtown library had both Between the Bridge and the River as well as Eleanor and Park, my first choice on the So Popular list, so off I went. Due to the mixed opinions on Craig Ferguson’s book, I suspected I would not enjoy it as much as Eleanor and Park, so I decided to read it first and save E&P as a treat.
While reading the book I kept alternating between it being a 2 star or 3 star book. I eventually settled on a two star review. There were times reading that I would laugh, amused at wry observations on life, religion, and the workings of the world, which would buoy the rating up to 3 stars. I would read bits I found particularly funny aloud to my husband and we would chuckle together.
Success is not reviled in Jewish culture, there is no anti-intellectualism in mainstream Judaism like there is in the breakaway cults of Christianity and Islam. Therefore, Hitler lost some of his best geeks before the war started. Geeks who would later develop weapons for an enemy that would leave his nasty little dream a burned corpse in a Berlin bunker.
In terms of the story being told in the book, I just didn’t care. The meandering storylines of the various characters seemed to stagger around drunkenly. George and Fraser start the book together but their paths almost immediately diverge. George just wanders off in one direction to follow his own arc and Fraser lurches forward from one despicable thing to the next. Saul and Leon, brothers, come from left field having no connection to George and Fraser. While George and Fraser’s lives were mostly skipped until present day, we trudge through the whole of the brothers’ lives to finally get to the point where Saul and Leon intersect in the present. The disparate stories sort of wind together at the end of the book. Fraser, Saul, and Leon collide but George is off on his own storyline, which felt weird.
Craig Ferguson leaves nothing sacred and pokes at a lot of cultural institutions, and at times is all out derogatory, which could be off putting to many people. Some bits were distasteful but I never was out right offended. Overall, Between the Bridge and the River was a bit of a slog and I’m glad it’s over.