Newest Review: ... with several different sections. One details the life of John Orr, a man washed up at the foot of the majestic Bridge. Orr is suffering f... more
The Bridge - Masterpiece Or Crazed Confusion
The Bridge - Iain Banks
Member Name: chrisfried
The Bridge - Iain Banks
Date: 13/04/04, updated on 13/04/04 (114 review reads)
Advantages: Amazing Plot, Beautifully Written
Disadvantages: Hard to follow at times, disturbing images present
Iain Banks was born in Dunfermline, Fife, in Scotland in 1954 and was educated at Stirling University where he read English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988. The Bridge was written in 1986 after the success of the Wasp Factory.
Orr, the otherwise unnamed main character of the novel, is a successful Scottish engineer who's fed up with his life. His work doesn't really interest him anymore; years of alcohol abuse and smoking marijuana has dulled his life; his girlfriend has other lovers (he also has lover, but he would rather his lover remained dedicated to him). Then one evening he crashes his classic Jaguar into a parked MG. The aftermath is coma and months of amnesiac trance.
The Bridge is what the reader comes to know as reality. However it is what Orr has created in his mind to deal with his trauma. The Bridge stretches from nowhere to nowhere. He creates an alternate unreal life within this fantasy where he has lude relations with women. However this invented life is a parallel with his own dissatisfying life, he is a low level engineer with little to no rights on the bridge. He constantly is haunted by disgusting images of his crash site, a bridge whereby there are dozens of voluptuous women on one side, but he cannot reach them. These images progress to disgusting illusions of women eating their own faeces. He has illusions that he is in a hospital bed in a coma with his ex girlfriend staring over him. The irony is that although he thinks this is an illusion, it is reality haunting him. Constantly trying to find ways to escape is a parody of his mind trying to escape this unreality that is the "bridge".
The narrative fiercly condemns an over mechanistic society that the West has become. The novel stands out in Bank's literary works as it has a happy ending, Orr wakes up to his girlfriend's loving arms and is freed from the unreality of the
The plot can be confusing at times especially for a first read, however if constantly interpreted and remembered it becomes clearer. The second read is fantastic as understanding becomes far easier. The work is open to many interpretations much like Banks' other literature.
A definite must read for all Banks' fans and for all interested in the weird, yet interesting unreality that is the Bridge.