Last night I finished reading Evan S. Connell's novel, Mrs. Bridge, a beautifully-crafted book from 1959 that had me smiling on the bus--even once when I was standing across from a guy in a half-zipped hoodie sporting a full-chest tattoo that included tombstones, a skull, and bleeding hearts. (Really, I shouldn't judge people by appearances, which is an important message in the book.)
The writing in Mrs. Bridge is a beautiful cross between Virginia Woolf's work and Ernest Hemingway's. It was incredibly concise while still being packed with heart-wrenching internal thoughts and trappings.
The book is made up of little vignettes, a similar structure to Elizabeth Strout's 2008 novel Olive Kitteridge (which did manage to win one of those elusive Pulitzers!), but with even better writing...in my opinion.
India Bridge and her son Douglas were wonderful characters, and some other family members and friends were also strong. The story got more and more emotional as it progressed, dealing with World War II, racism, and ending on a wonderfully tense scene that made me so jealous of Connell's talent and mad at my own inadequacy. (Within minutes of finishing the book I started to reread The Great Gatsby, which only frustrated and excited me that much more.) Luckily, the timing is right, because it's making me antsy to revise my WIP, The Pagani Project (formerly Cyberlama).
It's been so long since I've discovered a new book that I would include in my list of favorites, but Mrs. Bridge does it for me. It sends me. It had been recommended years ago by one of my favorite writing teachers, Mary Yukari Waters--whose stance on bulimia is surprisingly tolerant. Ten years after it was published, Connell also published Mr. Bridge, which I will probably be reading soon.
What's Peanut eating? Raw eggs and french fries.