Saturday, 17 November 2018

#CBR10 Book 97: "Between the Bridge and the River" by Craig Ferguson

Page count: 348 pages
Rating: 2 stars

#CBR10Bingo: #CannonBookclub

I voted for this book in the most recent Book Club poll because Craig Ferguson's autobiography is hugely enjoyable and one of the best ones I've read/listened to (I have the audiobook, narrated by Ferguson himself), and as a result, I was curious and excited at the chance to read a work of fiction by him. Unlike some who have already reviewed this book (by now quite a few, I'm yet again behind on my reviews), I didn't really watch a lot of Ferguson's stuff as a late night host (although I've seen quite a few fun interviews he's done on YouTube and the song he did about Doctor Who). I'm not sure exactly what I was expected from the book (the blurb is not very informative), but it certainly wasn't what I actually got.

This book was a completely different reading experience from most things I've read (and as long time followers of my blog know, I read quite a lot). It's a whole bunch of things, all of them weird and strange, none of them particularly enjoyable. There's a road trip element, there's magical realism, surrealism, there's various literary allusions (to Dante's Divine Comedy, among other things). It's a satire covering celebrity culture, organised religion and cults, the media and there's a whole load of swearing, other coarse language and violence. Sadly, the only characters Ferguson sees fit to develop in any way are all male, women are all given short shrift, but if they're lucky they escape being sexually violated and/or murdered. There is so much misogyny, sexism, homophobia (there may have been transphobia too, I'm not going back to check) and racism in this book. Ferguson seems obsessed with sex and/or violence and while I'm sure he intended it as edgy and provocative, wanting to shock the reader - it all just comes across as needlessly vulgar and quite sad.

I struggled to get into the book, not really caring for any of the various male protagonists, but once I got a ways into the book, I kept going mainly out of morbid curiosity as to how Ferguson was going to tie everything together (and in the vain hopes that the book would eventually get better). While taking part in the book club discussion, I discovered that this book was initially intended to be the first part in a series. While I stubbornly read this book to the end (and don't blame any of the readers who had to put it down partway through), I most certainly would not have read a sequel.

I said in my review of The Dud Avocado that the late AlabamaPink and I certainly appear to have a vastly different taste in books. This book just confirmed it, and I must admit, if we're doing Book Bingo again next year (which I REALLY hope we do), I hope that we aren't forced to read any more of the books she got through during her painfully cut-short year of reviewing. At least, since I am lucky enough to have access to my American BFF's New York library login, I was able to get this as a loan, and didn't have to pay money for it. I suspect my review would be a lot angrier if I'd have to part with money to read this.

Judging a book by its cover: The book was in parts disgusting, boring or just very, very odd - the cover is simply boring. I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to be showing - someone falling over and looking up at their hand and foot while doing so? It's not great, but then, neither is this book, so if it keeps people away from it - bonus?

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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