Title: The Bridge
Author: Iain Banks
Page Count: 390
This book was a gift from someone and so I pretty much went in blind, although I’ve heard good things about Banks in the past. The premise was interesting too, although it’s hard to explain exactly what the book is about. It’s one of those books with hallucinatory, trippy qualities that make it a pleasure to read but which also ensure that it kind of messes with your head.
As a general rule, I quite liked that and thought that it worked pretty well. The real downside was that there were some chunky sections that were written in Scots dialect and which were even more difficult to absorb than the meandering narrative. I actually enjoyed the narrative, but the Scots stuff was like Irvine Welsh but mixed in with a bunch of random terms I’m more used to from the Midlands. I’m sure it was authentic, I just didn’t like it.
In fact, those Scottish sections made the book drag for me to the point at which I had to switch it over as a bedtime book, although only for those sections. I got through them, but they didn’t really add to the book and instead they slowed me down and made this last a couple of days longer than it needed to. A problem, but of the first-world variety.
What’s weird is that the main thing I’ll be taking away from this book is one of the minor characters who really stole the show. He was a psychiatrist’s patient who thought that he was a different piece of furniture every day and who had to go around with a police escort. Sometimes he thought he was a bidet in a women’s bathroom and he could be quite persistent.
That, for me, is pretty typical of this book. There was a lot of food for thought and plenty of little passages that tickled me or that made me think about life and philosophy, but it was also infuriating at times and slightly disappointing just because I feel like it could have been so much more. As for whether I’d recommend it, that really depends on what you’re into. If you like experimental stuff or science fiction with a dystopian flavour, try it.