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Birth of a Bridge

by Maylis de Karangal

An unusual novel where the main character is a bridge rather than any of the people who flock to work on building it. The visionary Mayor of Coca, an imaginary town in California, wants to transform it into a city to rival Dubai, but it needs a new and spectacular bridge. The progress of the building work interspersed with vignettes of the workers and the author's unusual prose style make this novel an intriguing, sometimes comic read.

Extract

The old Golden Bridge is in the crosshairs. The thing is narrow, it strangles traffic, causing irritation, middle fingers brandished through car windows, slowing the pace and putting business in peril. It doesn't suffice. The Boa can't even look at it any more without flying into a rage. I want to be finished with the slow, the old, the broken down. I want it destroyed ....
So the Boa wants his bridge. Not just any arch, not just any viaduct hastily dreamed up, but a bridge in the image of the new Coca. He wants something large and functional, he wants at least six lanes - a freeway over the river. He wants a unique creation. Scans his debtors, his acquaintances, expresses his desire but no-one sends back the interpretation he's waiting for. In secret, he grabs a piece of paper and a pen and does some sketches of his own, but no matter how fast he draws his lines, trying to capture a pure form ... he can't quite get it.
Translated by Jessica Moore

Parallels

The Great Bridge: Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough
The Big Country - the film
 

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