THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY

3 May

This Novella, set in 18th Century Peru, is all of 107 pages not including the Acknowledgements, Foreword, Afterword and About the Author which, in and of themselves are well worth reading. I skipped through this book rather quickly, and was absorbed in the removed tone and style of the writing. Anyone who is deeply involved in literature will easily distinguish the reason for it having won the Pulitzer.

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Foreword by Russell Banks
Afterword by Tappan Wilder
Soft cover edition – Perennial Classics, an imprint of Harper-Collins 1998
Original hardcover publication 1927 by Albert & Charles Boni, Inc. (pictured)
Fiction 138 pages (in total)

A Jesuit Priest who was on his way to cross The Bridge of San Luis Rey was delayed by just enough time only to witness the bridge break and fall into the gulf below, carrying five travelers to their deaths. He is devastatingly mystified. Why was he spared? Why those five? For six years after the tragedy, filling scores of notebooks, Father Juniper sets out on a quest to write an enormous book about the reason why God chooses some to live and others to die. Is it really so simple as divine providence or is it mere chance? One by one, through Juniper’s inquest, we begin to ‘meet’ these five people, learn of their stories and what took each of them to the bridge that day. This fable intertwines their lives, subtly at first, only to crescendo the similarities at Wilder’s fancy.

An exceptionally well written book cunningly poses a question that slowly themes it’s way through the plot. More can not be said without setting forth spoilers, so I leave you with this: “The business of literature is not to answer questions, but to state them fairly.” Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904)

This book is a rare treat for those who are looking for one.

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Thornton Wilder
(1897-1975)

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