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Between the Bridge and the River Hardcover – March 16, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A gallery of grotesques slogs through the sewers of the entertainment industry toward redemption in this exhilarating debut novel from the host of The Late Late Show. Leading the pack are Fraser, a Scottish "phony TV evangelist... drunken, selfish media prick... gossip and sot" who has been disgraced in a sex scandal; his cancer-stricken boyhood pal, George; vapid sit-com star Leon; and Leon's 300-pound, sexually perverted Svengali brother, Saul. They make their separate but linked ways through a world populated by snake handlers, serial killers, dead-eyed whores and hack studio executives pushing formulaic action films, while they take hallucinatory side trips. The sprawling tale, with plenty of Scottish backstory, casts a jaundiced eye on media debaucheries and petty vanities, throwing in miscellaneous riffs on everything from Starbuck's to escort ads, but Ferguson is particularly sharp—and funny—on Hollywood proper. For every satire of organized religion or a Vegas that's "as glitzy as a trailer park at Christmas," however, he delivers an injunction to "help others" or an ode to Paris in springtime that somehow sounds fresh. The result is a tour de force of cynical humor and poignant reverie, a caustic yet ebullient picaresque that approaches the sacred by way of the profane. (Apr. 10)
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Ferguson is best-known to Americans as host of The Late Late Show, and moviegoers may recognize him as the Glasgow hairdresser in The Big Tease and the pot-puffing lead in Saving Grace. His strange, funny, profane, surreal, and surprisingly moving first novel is about friends since childhood from Glasgow. Fraser meets fame and fortune--well, the Scottish equivalents, at least--as a televangelist but unfortunately has insatiable yens for booze, prostitutes, and . . . knitwear. Meanwhile, George is a bit of a lost soul, who may or may not have a terminal illness. The novel also features illegitimate half-brothers Saul and Leon from the American Deep South and an eclectic cast of historical figures, including Carl Jung. Ferguson pokes good-natured fun at the media, pop culture, reality TV, religion, and, of course, Scotland as the novel jumps gleefully from Glasgow to London to Paris to Miami to Vegas to L.A., and from one character to another, while somehow managing to make weird literary sense. Fond of deranged, slightly warped humor? Try this. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
The writing leaves a little to be desired though. I'm not a complete purist or "grammar nazi", but Craig Ferguson's over-use of sentence fragments, one-sentence paragraphs, and run-on sentences starts to get a bit annoying after a while. Could have done with a better style editor.
Overall: happy I read it; but not in a hurry to look for other works by the same author.
In Between the Bridge and The River, we have two Scottish school mates who end up dying or maybe not. The first is a sports reporter/drunk/womanizer turned televangelist and the other is dying but decides a few last days in Paris would be the right send off. The televangelist spends way too much time thinking about his dreams and the men who are trained (although long dead) to analyze them. The second Scot finds his soul mate much too late in life although everyone seems to have a good time, some closure, and learn about seizing the moment.
Then we have two American half brothers who were cleverly the sons of famous singers, although only one inherits the singing and acting skills. He also inherits the covet thy wife tendencies which leads to a lot of quick escapes and cross-country runs. We also have a really down on his luck country parson who loses his wife after taking in the singer.
In the end Ferguson manages to pull all of this together. Everything shows up at a religious broadcasters convention along with many others they meet on the way. We learn that redemption is always possible. As the title indicates, one can still achieve salvation even after jumping from the bridge.
Great book, fantastic characters. But what impresses me most is the dead-on observation of our emotional landscape and the back story motivations that drive some people to do what they do. Love the Jung dream chat scenes! I'm picturing the author sitting in cafes people watching to gather his bits of weird soup ingredients for creating characters, nursing his cup of coffee while scribbling in a notebook and occasionally dropping his head to stifle rolls of barely muffled maniacal laughter...
Ferguson's ability to lay bare the truth beneath bizarre behavior while leaving an otherwise loathsome character intact, hope, heart and all, is a true gift.
If you blindly follow religious dogma that has been fed to you since birth, you probably won't like this book. Then again, you probably don't like anything that rattles your dedication to your job as most excellent mindless puppet, so go read some fiber cereal boxes instead.
Craig Ferguson- Author. It suits you. And pssssst - this should be a movie ala- Dogma. Have lunch with Kevin Smith. I'm just sayin...
Great sense of timing, surprise (STILL chuckling at the movie plot, revealed quite close to the end of the book) and emotional manipulation - there were parts that absolutely had me tearing up.
I think books 'like this' are perhaps the most difficult types to write; one can either overdo the humor or the drama and overshadow the actual story with both. The type of humor might not be to everyone's taste but the right readers will appreciate the way Craig manages to braid all three elements into a cohesive unit, and not 'now a funny part,' 'now a sad part,' and 'meanwhile, the story so far is.....'
Lastly, the hysterically scathing commentary about Hollywood (and everything else) - totally spot on, of course.
Hoping there'll be more.