The Bridge by Iain Banks: Book Review

The Bridge is a gripping novel which follows the story of the character Mr Orr (this is the only name we are ever given) post-car crash on the Forth Road Bridge. The bridge appears to engulf his parallel existence within his coma. Banks narrates the characters search for who he and why he is now living on the self-contained Bridge alongside the story of his existence prior to the car crash and his dysfunctional relationship.

Banks’ third fictional novel is rather similar to his first, The Wasp Factory, in that we are constantly questioning the state of the main character. In this case it is whether Mr Orr is really dead or if he is still alive. Banks tells a captivating story that pushes you forwards with brilliant witticisms and criticisms of the period, to a poignant ending where the quality of the life we have, and what we do with the time we are given is questioned and thoughtfully contemplated.

Within this novel Banks displays some very nationalist sentiments in this book and is critical of the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher 1979-1981, describing it as a government that Scots did not vote for. At the time of reading this book, where there are less than a hundred days until the 2014 Independence Referendum, the relevancy of the politics that this novel denotes is striking.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have a lot of respect for Iain Banks’ writing and his use of the pen. I intend to read Whit next, so expect a review of that coming in the next couple of weeks.


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