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The Bridge [Paperback]

Iain Banks
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description


The man who wakes up in the extraordinary world of a bridge has amnesia, and his doctor doesn't seem to want to cure him. Does it matter? Exploring the bridge occupies most of his days. But at night there are his dreams. Dreams in which desperate men drive sealed carriages across barren mountains to a bizarre rendezvous; an illiterate barbarian storms an enchanted tower under a stream of verbal abuse; and broken men walk forever over bridges without end, taunted by visions of a doomed sexuality.

Lying in bed unconscious after an accident wouldn't be much fun, you'd think. Oh yes? It depends who and what you've left behind.

Which is the stranger reality, day or night? Frequently hilarious and consistently disturbing, THE BRIDGE is a novel of outrageous contrasts, constructed chaos and elegant absurdities.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349102155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349102153
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

Product Description


Represents significant progress in the flowering of an exceptional talent...a totally absorbing read (The TIMES)

Iain Banks of THE WASP FACTORY eclipses that sensational debut...a real dazzler (DAILY MAIL)

It's compulsive reading and highly recommended. (Sunday TODAY)

A stunning book, Bank s' powerful imagination is joined to a rare ability to be truly funny while exploring a nightmare world. (Sunday TIMES)

Book Description

* Paperback reissue of a modern classic, Iain Banks' THE BRIDGE - 'the flowering of an exceptional talent' (THE TIMES).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The dark station, shuttered and empty, echoed to the distant, fading whistle of the departing train. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great - if challenging - read 7 Nov 2001
This is the first of his books I have read. At the start I was a bit annoyed. Making up dreams seemed a bit cheap. But then the suspension of disbelief got in there and the the narrative and the description of this place took over.
A brilliant "other place" that completely takes you over. The vision of the place is completely visual - you can see it on the page.
The chapters with the dialect I found hard going and for preference I would have prefered a text that kept the pace going.

A brilliant read and I am shopping for more.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bridge. 14 April 2010
By TomCat
After suffering a horrific car accident, the novel's nameless, Scottish protagonist finds himself on the `Bridge', an industrial super-complex his mind has conceived for him to inhabit whilst he is unconscious. The man's identity is now split three-fold, as is the narrative structure of the book. Flashbacks to his pre-coma life represent his Freudian `ego', his surface personality that exists in the "real-world". His dreaming self living on the `Bridge' is his `super-ego' and a third barbarian like character that only desires sex and food is the `id'. Only when these three personifications of the psyche reunite will the book's hero be whole again. In essence this book presents a very traditional tale of self-discovery which has been stripped down to its most bare psychological form.

Everything in this novel, in reflection of Freud's tripartite mental structure, comes in threes; there are three narrators, three versions of the same man, and three sections to the book. Like Freud's psyche though, each of these `threes' combine to form a larger, more complete whole. The story and imagery are immensely surreal, from technological mega-structures to images of men walking forever in search of siren-like representations of female sexuality.

Yet beneath all of these layers of metaphor and psychology Banks also attempts to give a picture of modern-day Scotland and its politics. This is where, in my opinion, Banks attempts too much; his great artistry and surreal narrative is often at odds with the novel's ostensible state-of-the-nation agenda. However, the strength of the book's characterisation and its highly original setting more than make up for this minor flaw. Ultimately I found this to be a well-written and innovative work that lifts the classic coming-of-age yarn into a post-modern literary framework. A mind-bending yet moving novel.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Iain M Banks but almost Sci-Fi. 11 Jan 2000
By A Customer
The story is about a man in a coma who finds himself waking up with amnesia in a surreal world where everything seems to exist on an endless bridge. None of the other inhabitants find this strange and the man's curiosity and desire to escape take him upon an unusual adventure. This is interspersed with strange dream sequences and a narrative of his life up to the point of falling into a coma. All these threads intertwine into a compelling read. The ending is the weakest part of the story. If you've read The Wasp Factory you'll know how original and unexpected Banks's endings can be. The unusual setting of the Bridge give this tale an other worldly science fiction feel but it is also a story that stays very much on planet earth in the darkest recesses of the human mind. Almost worth a five if Banks hadn't written books to surpass this (Excession and Complicity to name two)
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtually perfect example of this writing style 27 April 2000
By A Customer
I bought this book many years ago on a whim, I'd heard of the writer but not read any of his work. I read it on holiday in Edinburgh (a coincidence)and it blew me away. The overlapping stories are confusing but patience and a good memory reward the reader. Having read a number of books in this flashback style I have to say this is a virtually perfect example of the style, Mr Banks certainly likes to challenge the reader and meeting that challenge is half the fun of this book, although I've found some of his later books virtually unreadable (Feersum Endjin for one) in this book everything works. Mr Banks skillful narative and pacing create a genuine sense of tension as the book reaches a climax and upon finishing you can only sit back and say 'wow'. This is definitely a book that deserves a second and third reading, there is so much packed in that can only be appreciated second time round. The book will not be to everyones taste, but if you have enjoyed any other Iain Banks book you will enjoy this, read it once, read it twice - you won't be disappointed.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, mediocre execution. 4 Feb 2004
Banks is without doubt a remarkably inventive and talented author and "The Bridge" highlights some of his best features - the story is initially gripping and some of the imagery is inspired. Unfortunately the story flags towards the end, losing focus and meandering and not maintaining the mystery and intrigue of the earlier chapters. Whilst I appreciate that this may have been a deliberate ploy to better portray what our main character is experiencing, imagery is no substitute for a tight story-line and cannot carry a book alone. I really wanted to like "The Bridge" but for me, it wasn't quite up to the standard of some of Banks' other works.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life is but a dream� 14 Sep 2005
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
Iain Banks' 3rd novel tells the tale of a car crash victim and the symbolic dreamscape he inhabits while deep in a coma. The fantasy world of the bridge is full of delightfully strange oddities and vivid characters, even weirder 'dreams within dreams' (one of which, an amusing fantasy barbarian warrior pastiche, sees Banks experimenting with the sort of illiterate phonetic prose he would later perfect in Feersum Endjinn), and Banks flashback fleshing out of the lead characters real life history is skilfully done. While Banks descriptive and character writing is excellent however, there is something missing here - and that's any strong narrative. The Bridge has one of the slightest plots of any Banks novel, and unlike his previous two novels there are no unexpected plot twists along the way - from the very beginning its made perfectly clear that we are in the dreamworld of a comatose man, and from then on follows a pleasantly weird but rather languid symbolic journey as the character puts his thoughts in order before coming round. The Bridge is certainly recommended for its strong characterisation, inventive weirdness and beautiful prose, but with a very predictable story arc and a paper-thin plot I wouldn't rank this as amongst the authors very best works. A triumph of style over content.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant reading
Brilliant reading for those requiring a challenge...... Great book for sure. It definitely keeps the brain alert. All marbles still intacto after reading.....
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. M. R. Scrimshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Creative as always
Of all his books, this one gets lost in a few places. But, I've always been a fan of Banks's incredible creativity and messing with your head a little is all part of the reward for... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mark S McCall
4.0 out of 5 stars Very unusual and surreal
Takes you on a rollercoaster of a journey. Brilliant piece of writing which
surrealistically conjures up a stream of imaginings.
Published 10 months ago by Mrs. J. E. Nadin
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting!
As usual, a complete change from his other works. Intriguing but guessed the ending. Would recommend it to anyone who likes Iain Banks.
Published 11 months ago by Joan
5.0 out of 5 stars Give yourself a reading treat!
Banksi at his best.Not the easiest book to read as one has to change literary gears quite often, usually suddenly and without warning. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Hendry Horse
5.0 out of 5 stars Banks at his most inventive
I've read quite a lot of Iain (with and without the M) Banks' novels. I liked this one the most.

The style is challenging at times, but that was part of the appeal for... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mr Nobody
5.0 out of 5 stars the bridge Iain Banks
The first book I've read of the late great Mr Banks. Best book I've read in a long time and will read more.
Published 14 months ago by Jonathon White
5.0 out of 5 stars Not love but .......
I don't think 'love it' is the right way to describe a book that I found fascinating, thoughtful and absolutely ' un-put-downable '. Read more
Published 14 months ago by ann d
2.0 out of 5 stars Seduced by the sample
Yes I liked the sample. Like a film trailer, sometimes, the trailer is the sum of all the best bits of a film and the film is disappointing. So with the bridge. Read more
Published 14 months ago by C. R. Spencer
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy New
Better not to buy second hand! Content not yet read but the old appearance is not so attractive - on books to be read category now.
Published 15 months ago by Marina
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