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Posts tagged ‘the bridge of san luis rey’

#1 in 2012

From Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, I’ll be recapping the top 5 posts from 2012 on 101 Books. 101 Books will return live on January 2nd, 2013!

Today’s post, “The Aurora Tragedy: When Life & Art Intersect,” was originally posted on July 25

The Top Post from 2012: The Aurora Tragedy: When Life & Art Intersect

I’ll do my best to keep today’s post on subject. To me, it makes sense how this relates to the theme of my blog. I hope it does to you too.

As I put together some of my last few posts about The Bridge of San Luis Rey over the weekend, a book that details the lives of people who fall to their deaths in the collapse of a rope bridge in Peru, I was reminded again about the randomness of tragedy.

Just last week, I posted about how this novel experienced a rebirth after September 11, when Tony Blair quoted a passage from the book during a memorial service for the victims of 9/11.

On the heels of the awful events in Aurora, Colorado last week, this novel seems relevant yet again.

In The Bridge, Thornton Wilder reminds us that any one of us could’ve been on that bridge, just like any one of us could have been watching Batman in that Aurora theater.

Wilder, through the main character Brother Juniper, attempts to explain the “why” of tragedy. Why were those 5 people on that bridge? What brought them all together at that moment? Why wasn’t it someone else?

Brother Juniper begins a process of going back through their lives, telling their stories, and trying to make sense of their deaths. It’s no surprise that a question of that magnitude doesn’t bring an answer that will satisfy everyone.

It’s a messy question with a messy answer—actually there is no real answer. I don’t think any human mind can ever understand why crap like this happens.

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Ranking The First 45 Novels

Not long after I started this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to start ranking the books based on my opinions.

When I interviewed Lev Grossman, he explained why Time didn’t rank the books, which makes sense. But I’ve kept at it anyway, fully realizing these are completely subjective and, most likely, pointless rankings.

Every five books, I take a little time to explain my thoughts on where I’ve ranked each novel. This last batch of five was one of the best groups of books I’ve read yet.

Three of the five are in my top 10, with Under The Volcano being the only real stinker of the bunch.

Here’s how I broke them down:

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Book #45: The Bridge Of San Luis Rey

I might have said everything about this novel that can be said.

For a book that’s just slightly more than 100 pages, this little novel gives you a lot to think about. It’s really incredible what Thornton Wilder does with The Bridge Of San Luis Rey. At the risk of sounding cliché-ish, this one’s a masterpiece.

The premise, as I’ve mentioned many times over the last few weeks, is simply this: A rope bridge in Peru collapses, killing five people. After this tragedy, a Franciscan monk named Brother Juniper, who witnesses the event, decides to try and make some cosmic sense of it all.

He researches the lives of each victim, tells their stories, and attempts to understand why they died. The overarching question for Brother Juniper is “Why does bad crap happen?” As expected, he finds the answer to this question isn’t black and white.

There’s a fuzzy, grey area in which this novel takes up residency and hangs out. If you’re looking for a clear cut, magic bean answer to why tragedy happens, then you won’t find it here.

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Kipling Liked It! He Really Liked It!

If you ever read The Bridge Of San Luis Rey, do yourself a favor and also read the novel’s afterword.

I don’t always read afterwords, but when I do, I read The Bridge of San Luis Rey afterword. It’s a fascinating look at the publishing process the novel went through.

I’ll try and sum it up.

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The Aurora Tragedy: When Life & Art Intersect

I’ll do my best to keep today’s post on subject. To me, it makes sense how this relates to the theme of my blog. I hope it does to you too.

As I put together some of my last few posts about The Bridge of San Luis Rey over the weekend, a book that details the lives of people who fall to their deaths in the collapse of a rope bridge in Peru, I was reminded again about the randomness of tragedy.

Just last week, I posted about how this novel experienced a rebirth after September 11, when Tony Blair quoted a passage from the book during a memorial service for the victims of 9/11.

On the heels of the awful events in Aurora, Colorado last week, this novel seems relevant yet again.

In The Bridge, Thornton Wilder reminds us that any one of us could’ve been on that bridge, just like any one of us could have been watching Batman in that Aurora theater.

Wilder, through the main character Brother Juniper, attempts to explain the “why” of tragedy. Why were those 5 people on that bridge? What brought them all together at that moment? Why wasn’t it someone else?

Brother Juniper begins a process of going back through their lives, telling their stories, and trying to make sense of their deaths. It’s no surprise that a question of that magnitude doesn’t bring an answer that will satisfy everyone.

It’s a messy question with a messy answer—actually there is no real answer. I don’t think any human mind can ever understand why crap like this happens.

Read more

“Too Bad The Movie Sucks.”

When I heard that The Bridge of San Luis Rey 2004 film starred Robert Deniro, Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne and Harvey Keitel, I immediately added it to my to-watch list. Quite a cast.

The book lends itself to a great story that could be a powerful film. That’s why I was surprised when I saw all the poor reviews.

And it’s not just critics. Regular people like you and me hate it too. Misty, a commenter on this blog, had this to say about it:

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September 11 & “The Bridge Of San Luis Rey”

“It is interesting, therefore, and possibly useful to consider [The Bridge of San Luis Rey] in the long and (at the time of this writing) still darkening shadow of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001.”

That’s a quote from Russell Banks in the foreword to The Bridge.

In its attempt to understand the seeming randomness of tragedy, this novel is very relevant to the events of September 11, 2001 in the United States. As I mentioned in my preview to The Bridge, the novel experienced a rebirth of sorts after it was quoted by Tony Blair during the September 11 memorial service.

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Next Up: The Bridge Of San Luis Rey

The premise of my next book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, is fascinating.

A suspension bridge built by the Incas in the 1300s in Peru collapses in 1714, causing 5 people to fall to their deaths. A friar witnesses the collapse and goes on a pursuit to determine why God allowed these 5 people to die.

Tons of interesting facts about The Bridge and its author, Thornton Wilder:

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