The Bridge

The Bridge

by Doug Marlette

Paperback(First Edition)

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Overview

From Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Marlette comes the captivating story of Pick Cantrell, a successful newspaper cartoonist whose career has hit the skids. In the grip of a midlife meltdown, Pick returns with his wife and son to a small North Carolina town, where he confronts the ghosts of his past in the form of the family matriarch and his boyhood nemesis, Mama Lucy. What follows is an extraordinary story within a story, as Pick uncovers startling truths about himself and about the role his grandmother played in the tragic General Textile Strike Of 1934

A novel about family, love, and forgiveness, The Bridge explores how much we ever really know about others, and most important, about ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060505219
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/05/2002
Series: Harper Perennial Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 600,576
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Doug Marlette is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and son. The Bridge is his first novel.

What People are Saying About This

Jay Hollenberger

“An exceptional first novel from a multi-talented author: gripping, exciting, moving, challenging, illuminating.”

Rhett Jackson

“..one of the best novels to come out of the South in recent years.”

Valerie Sayers

The Bridge [is] a great story—exuberant, proud, myth-challenging. A hugely ambitious novel.

Customer Reviews

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Bridge 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Doug Marlette has done it all - characters you really care about, humor, history, politics, family. From the very first the reader is drawn into the complex relationships of this Southern family only to discover no one is exactly who they seemed. Loved the neer-do-well cousins! The local characters were just 'off' enough to be fun but not too over the wall to be believable. What a great seat we had while we watched Pick and his grandmother Lucy learn about each other. How have the critics missed this novel? Hope it comes out in paper so our book group can discuss it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a terrific story within a story! As a Southerner and former resident of both North Carolina and South Carolina, I cannot imagine anyone who has lived in the SE giving this book less than 5 stars. Most of it is true and the rest is well within the bounds of reasonable. Although, I am sure it has changed since I was last there in 1990, Hillsborough, N.C. is a wonderful little town, with a personality uniquely its own. Just as things in the present, like Sept. 11 for example, surprise us, so there are surprising things we find out about the past. The lives of those often called 'ordinary working people' have never been so dull as others or even those 'ordinary working people' sometimes think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I HEARD AN INTERVIEW WITH DOUD MARLETTE ON THE BOB AND SHERI SHOW. BEING AN EX RESIDENT IN N.C. MYSELF, I WAS VERY INTERESTED IN IT , WHEN THEY TALKED ABOUT THE MILLS. I GOT THE BOOK FROM MY HUSBAND FOR MY BIRTHDAY. ONCE I STARTED READING IT, IT WAS HARD TO STOP. WELL WRITEN, MY HATS OFF TO DOUG, FOR TELLING THE STORY THAT NEEDED TO BE TOLD. BEING AN EX MILL WORKER FOR A SHORT WHILE, I CAN IDENTIFY WITH HOW THE WORKERS IN 1934 FELT. AS OF 1989 NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED IN THE MILL INDUSTRY. THEY STILL OVER WORK YOU, AND USE SCARE TACTICS, TO KEEP YOUR PRODUCTION UP TO PAR.I WOULD RECOMMEND THE BRIDGE TO EVERYONE I KNOW , IM SURE IT WILL HIT HOME TO ALL OF US. THANK YOU DOUG MARLETTE , FOR THIS WONDERFUL WALK BACK IN TIME. YOU MAKE ALSO MAKE US REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT FAMILY IS ALSO, WITHOUT THEM WE ARE JUST FLOATING THRU LIFE, SO LET THEIR MISTAKES, TEACH US TO FORGIVE AND FORGET.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For most people, one great talent would be enough For Doug Marlette, it's just a starting point. Doug Marlette is a Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial cartoonist. And he may be even better known as the author of Kudzu, the comic strip that appears daily in dozens of newspapers. But if his first novel, The Bridge, is any indication, Marlette's greatest talent may be as a novelist. This is a book you can't put down, a book that leaves you torn between savoring every page and hurrying through to get to the outcome. The Bridge is a semi-autobigraphical tale that features a gripping story of conflict and violence in North Carolina's not-too-distant textile past. But just as importantly, it is a story of self-discovery and reconciliation. It is a story about people for whom you come to care deeply. I wept for the last 50 pages. Some books are great reads. A few books are not only great reads but they also make you think about how you live your life. The Bridge is such a book. The novelist Pat Conroy says on the jacket cover that The Bridge is the best first novel to come out of North Carolina since Look Homeward Angel. Pat Controy was right.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found THE BRIDGE captivating. Marlette's prose, even at its most lyrical, has a straightforward immediacy to it that kept me engrossed, turning pages until well past my bedtime. I couldn't put the thing down. His mission is an ambitious one--create a story that is not only fiction but also semi-autobiographical and historical--and the jumping from past to present could, in the hands of a less-skilled author, frustrate a reader. But Marlette's rhythm keeps it together. Given the fact that Marlette is a cartoonist like his protagonist, Pick Cantrell, Pick could come across as self-serving. Yet Pick is neither romanticized nor glamorized but depicted with all his human weakness. Both Marlette and Pick are editorial cartoonists with similar geographical and, we learn, familial histories. Maybe this is why the book seems so poetic, its phrases able to stand alone--in some ways editorial cartoons are like poetry, using few words but juxtaposing them with creative, surprising images to convey an original message. The collocation of Pick's life with that of his grandmother accomplishes the same task. But unlike a cartoon, the book maintains the roundness of its characters when drawing parallels between them. Marlette's cartoonist skills as an image-builder, a message-sender, translate beautifully onto the page. This is what is most impressive about the book as a first novel, and this is why it succeeds.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the main things I look for in a novel is the 'voice' that propels and pervades the storytelling. Marlette's THE BRIDGE matches character and voice perfectly. Main character and narrator Pick Cantrell looks at the world through the eye of a cartoonist, but this rich novel is far from being a cartoon. In the contemporary settings, Pick 'picks' his images of the people around him. We see them focused through his 'lens.' Through this narrative device, we become involved with well-developed characters who happen to have a cartoonist's microscope run over their quirks, making them all the more fascinating. This extra-dimension to the writing is true to Pick's own character voice and a tribute to Marlette's skill as a creative artist. Not only is the whole scope of the story adroitly presented, but his sentences are just loaded with little 'cartoonist concepts' that make me laugh out loud. Pick's reference to his family reunion as a 'coagulation' is a brillian image of bloodlines clotting around the picnic table. Everyone who has ever been to a family reunion knows exactly what he means. But, this novel is not simply Pick Cantrell's story and voice. There lies within it a greater gift of truth: giving 'voice' to the 'voiceless.' The mill workers of this country whose struggle was all but lost to history's emphasis on the New Deal and the rise of fascist Germany also have a story to tell. That voice is embedded in Mama Lucy, and Marlette has created a bridge back to a forgotten past that touches us all. It is THE BRIDGE which I hope many, many readers will cross.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ever since I read Doug Marlette's first essay in Esquire, I have been hoping he would create a book filled with his graceful, evocative prose. The Bridge exceeded my hopes. He writes with the eye of an artist and the heart of a poet. Protagonist Pick Cantrell, like Marlette, is a political cartoonist, therefore doomed to feel always like a smart-aleck and an overly sensitive outsider. This is an ideal narrator for a story of families, secrets, and healing. 'Mama Lucy,' the terrifying matriarch, turns out to be the source of some of Pick's own strength and heart. And Pick's efforts to uncover his family history turn out to tell all of us something about our own history as workers, employers, and Americans. Moving, insightful, simply outstanding.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The cartoonist Pick Cantrell and his difficult grandmother, Mama Lucy, are the stars of this vast cast of Southern characters in this semi-historical story. How family secrets are brought to light and how the survivors learn to live and love together held my interest to the end. I strongly advise this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The prepublication hype on this one was big and meant to impress. Even the title, THE BRIDGE, suggests that one is about to settle into a weighty work of fiction. What THE BRIDGE in fact delivers is fast food: cheap and heavy with a bad aftertaste. The author tries to deliver on what might have been an important story, that of the millworkers' struggle to form a union in the 1930s, but he just doesn't have the skill to make it come to life. Instead he diverts us with a dull rendering of his personal journey to self-discovery -- and folks, it ain't much of a trip. This one's a clunker. I'm a fan of Marlette's cartoons. Let's hope he gets back to them soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love good southern writers, and some of my favorites recommended this one...WHY, I DON'T KNOW! None of these characters are people you want to spend time with, and the plot is sluggish and uneventful. Other readers seem to like the story of the mill strikes, but it seemed like it was kind of strung together as an afterthought. What the author seems to be most interested in is himself, and I personally found the character of Pick to be pretty obnoxious and conceited. You kind of realize why nobody else in the book can abide him. It was hard to stay with it to the end, but I wanted to get my money's worth. Guess what? Anyway if you have to have it, at least wait a few months and I'm sure you'll find lots of copies on the bargain table.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Doug Marlette's comic strip KUDZU has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years. Therefore I was looking forward to his first novel, and was happy to see it well reviewed. However, having just finished the book, I am astonished that it's garnered such lavish praise. Is it possible that others weren't as totally turned off as I by this bad soap opera of a book? It seems to be a festering nest of little hatreds, and the lead character, Pick Cantrell, is constantly railing and blustering at everyone from his poor relations to his editors in New York and North Carolina, riled by what appears to be their failure to recognize his massive talent and professional audacity. There is something very endearing about Mama Lucy, his crotchety old grandmother and the reluctant heroine of the textile mill strikes of the thirties, and for this one must give Marlette credit. However, when the author impatiently shifts from Lucy's story back into Pick's, there is a jarring shift in tone and content. His wife comes across as a browbeating control freak, and naturally Pick can't help but be tempted by a the local porn king's wife, who comes onto him with all the finesse of an 'Apartment 3G ' vixen...(well, I guess that's his frame of reference...) Anyway, I won't blow the outcome of this embarrassing will-he -or-won't-he? subplot for anyone who cares. It just seems astonishing that anyone could still be writhing from the perceived injustices of a perceived American caste system in this day, and in this age, when there is soooo much more at issue in this world. I also found the homophobic gerbil joke distasteful and disturbing...I thought Pick was supposed to be a champion of the disenfranchised, but the author's sympathies don't seem to extend much beyond his own backyard. There are so many fine books out there -- why settle for this dreck?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wicked, witty, and warm are not three words I normally Wicked, witty, and warm are not three words I normally use together, but somehow all three perfectly describe The Bridge. Kudos to Doug Marlette for a delicious Southern fried tale of true grit and grits!use together, but somehow all three perfectly describe The Bridge. Kudos to Doug Marlette for a delicious Southern fried tale of true grit and grits!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Doug Marlette's first novel took me totally by surprise. A publisher friend of mine sent me a copy with a pile of other 'new releases' and I was yawning through one after another when I happened to open The Bridge. I should really be angry with Mr. Marlette. It's because of him (I stayed up all night reading his book) that I looked like hell at my board meeting the next morning. But it was worth it! He's a welcome new Southern voice and a breath of fresh air after so many tired clunkers by Eudora Welty wannabes. My congratulations!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It doesn¿t always take a terrorist attack to change a life. Mine was changed before our national tragedy in a way I never expected by a book called ¿The Bridge.¿ I don¿t know how or when it happened, but somewhere in Doug Marlette¿s valentine to family and the South, I was changed. Somehow his childhood was my childhood and his family became mine and the emotions and feelings and sensations of life and love and transitions became too much. I put down the book and began rebuilding the broken bridge with my own distant, disengaged family. ¿The Bridge¿ tells tales of family secrets--hidden in attics and covered with cobwebs. It explores the differences of poor and the privileged, the talented and the not, the North and the South, the seemingly lucky ones who escaped their beginnings and their cousins who did not. It¿s a study of coming home and of jealousy, prejudice, courage and the trials of humanity. It helped me understand myself and people I¿ve misunderstood for years. The book also tells the true but mostly unreported story of a horrible and hearbreaking textile war in our country and the heroics of the worker struggles Norma Rae would covet. Beyond all that, it¿s intriguing to read ¿The Bridge¿ to watch a talented cartoonist twist his already twisted mind to become a novelist. How does a guy who has drawn wonderful squiggley cartoons and comic strips and exploited the power of the picture and the punchline for his whole life create something that¿s only words? Well, he paints word pictures, and he does it in a way that is beautiful and moving. ¿The Bridge¿ touched those painful parts of my heart and soul that were aching without my knowing. The book made me feel more human. Now, almost over the coma I¿ve been in since September 11, I¿m going to read the book again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a dark, convoluted first novel from political cartoonist, Doug Marlette. The protagonist, a political cartoonist, like, duh, Marlette himself, goes home to wrestle with the devils of his cracker origins, in particular, the obstreporous Mama Lucy, his grandmother. To say that this is an autobiographical novel is to be entirely too coy -- it reads like a dayrunner of Marlette's career. What it offers has little to do with creative fiction -- it's more like a middle school slam book taking all of Pick Cantrell's numerous adversaries to task. It's very difficult to care about a character who whines victim at every turn, and takes no responsibility for his own bad behaviour. I think we are meant to see Pick as a tortured genious. Instead what we get is a wingeing redneck with a big chip on his shoulder, wallowing in pages of dialogue with his carping wife, and valiantly deflecting the overtures of a good looking seductress in 'stylish biking tops'. The good little subplot, of his grandmother's valiant role in the mill uprisings in depression era North Carolina, is rushed through and concluded in a clunky, connect the dots finale. Mainly, we spend entirely too much time with the masturbatory musings of a guy who you wouldn't want to sit next to on a plane. Sorry to sound so hostile. I bought the book on the strength of the glowing reviews on this site, and pre-ordered. Should've realized the five star reviews came from folks who had advance copies, ie Marlette's friends. Another tip off should've been that the most highly touted blurb on the cover came from Pat Conroy, whom we discover on reading Marlette's acknowledgements, is the author's best friend. I feel duped, oversold, and gypped. Save yourself. Don't be suckered into buying this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wicked, witty, and warm are not three words I normally use together, but somehow all three perfectly describe The Bridge. Kudos to Doug Marlette for a delicious Southern fried tale of true grit and grits! Natalie Steinberg Huntington, Long Island
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Bridge is one of the best novels to come out of the South in years. It tells the story of Pick Cantrell, a successful newspaper columnist in New York, who loses his job and returns to his native North Carolina. He buys and restores an old house in Eno, a dying mill village and the fictional backdrop for the real story behind The Bridge. It is there that Cantrell comes face-to-face with his family and boyhood nemesis, his 90-year-old, domineering grandmother, Mama Lucy. As Pick begins to unearth his family's past, he learns that Mama Lucy had worked in the town's mills and been bayoneted by guardsmen during a massive uprising in the thirties. He begins coaxing the story of what happened and learns, along the way, to love the woman he grew up despising. In reality, the failure of the National Industrial Recovery Act --signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt only a year earlier-- prompted more than 400,000 mill workers, including thousands from central North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to walk off their jobs on Sept. 15, 1934. While Southern workers became a force to be reckoned with, management and the National Guard crushed the strike only three weeks later. Thousands of workers were blacklisted, and some were murdered. The whole thing was forgotten, and the word 'union' became a dirty word in the South. But their story --and that of the mill owners who exploited them and their communities-- is resurrected in Mama Lucy and her experiences as a worker, wife, mother, and matriarch. Her story is a testament to the values and conditions which shaped Southern mill villages and the families that worked in them for generations to come. Marlette deftly strikes a delicate balance between humor and didacticism, between the intimate Cantrell family portrait and one of workers who dared to confront mill owners and abominable working conditions --workers whose history has been nearly erased. Ultimately, Marlette's novel is a bridge in and of itself --from past to present, from transgression to forgiveness. Every reader will bring to it a different set of experiences and expectations but will undoubtedly take away a better world view, for at its heart lies a beautiful family portrait and an unforgettable lesson about the strength of the human spirit.