WINNER OF THE 2015 PEN CENTER USA LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION
Set in modern-day San Francisco, this obsessive work of fiction probes the stormy life of Alice, a passionate and whip-smart young woman who works at a law firm. Alice faces despair and occasional rapture as she struggles with simultaneously real and hallucinated relationships, including a tumultuous romance with her co-worker David, and an escalating war with her supervisor Fran. In lyrical prose, Bridge exposes a raw, brilliant, and furious mind as it treads the jagged terrain of mental illness, murder, and suicide—to be or not to be.
PRAISE FOR BRIDGE
"Bridge . . . may borrow a weapon, along with a taut style and a slender economy, from James M. Cain, but this is no crime story. Instead, and perhaps incongruously, it is a quiet, interior novel, a character study in which the prose plays a bigger role than the plot. What happens in the story is minimal: San Francisco legal secretary Alice falls in love with her married colleague David, antagonizes her supervisor, Fran, and buys that gun. But how it happens—and how Alice describes it happening—is striking, unsettling and profound . . . Alice reminds us of the truth about how hard it can be for anyone who’s really paying attention to survive in a world composed of such extremes of beauty and indifference."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Crisp, concise, emotionally explosive riffs, Thomas’s 56 brief, linked stories are linguistic tours de force that together form an unsettling character study . . . Alice leads her lonely life in what she calls the 'Goldilocks Zone': not too crazy, not too sane—a just-right (if tenuous) balance between calm and losing it . . . Thomas has a gift for using a minimum of words with maximum effect."
—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"A novel in stories that brings readers deep into the eccentric and neurotic mind of its protagonist. Thomas links these 56 stories with a consistent voice. Alice—a lonely, at times suicidal woman—narrates the minutiae of her life with insight and wit . . . Thomas’ prose in these episodic vignettes is tight and vivid. In each two-to-three page installment, solipsistic Alice is given black humor and memorable one-liners . . . With emotional resonance, an innovative structure and a unique narrator, Thomas crafts a book that's greater than the sum of its parts."
"Made up of 56 two-to-five page exercises in associative thinking—vibrant thought connecting vibrant thought—Robert Thomas's first novel Bridge will delight the more experimentally inclined, analytical reader. Bridge is an engaging, meandering exploration of the mind of the novel's protagonist, Alice, as she struggles with thoughts of suicide; her affection for her married co-worker, David; and her antagonistic relationship with her supervisor, Fran."
"Ever wonder what that quiet girl in the office is thinking? The serial monologues of Alice, self-described as an 'irrational prime number,' place us inside a wholly original, slightly suicidal, radically unconventional mind: precariously balanced, yet how far down she can see without falling. In this poet’s tour de force fiction, Thomas' imaginative language created in me, to transplant his phrase, 'what medical books accurately term prolonged dazzle.'"
—Eleanor Wilner, Ploughshares
"...Thomas' combination of sheer lyricism and incisive edginess in each swift poetic chapter keeps the reader leaning forward to hear what our wounded, brazen narrator, Alice, is going to say next . . . the real pleasure of the book is Alice, who knows more of human nature than is good for her, and tells all. This is literature of the first order. Thomas is a fearless writer with plentiful nerve and perfect pitch."
"Robert Thomas has done the nearly impossible in this age. He has written something entirely new, shockingly strange and strangely traditional . . . There's not a page here that is not worth rereading, in awe at the precision of the language, but it is page-turning adventure-in-poems as well . . . In Bridge, we encounter the full power of poetry along with the full poetry of prose."
"Bridge is an utterly unique book and a tour de force. Thomas's use of language reminds me most of Nabokov, the way he dances a sentence to its seeming end, only to twirl it just one more turn, revealing another hitherto hidden truth. But the glory of Bridge is not in language alone. The story is gripping, the psychology surprising and utterly right all at once. Not merely enjoyable, or absorbing, though both, Bridge is a revelation, as very few works of fiction are."
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2014