Craig Ferguson, Between the Bridge and the River, 2006.
Ferguson’s first novel is a road-trip good-time, a weird and wacky series of pastiches that is strongly reminiscent of the work of both Douglas Adams and Tom Robbins. Ostensibly the stories of two Glaswegians who were once friends, the story careens off into strange asides and amusing characters that one might well meet in Ferguson’s comedy (and bits and pieces from Ferguson’s own life, as you’ll discover in my next blog post on his American on Purpose). We follow George, a defence lawyer dying of cancer who falls in love, and Fraser, a disgraced televangelist seeking escape at a conference of his brother televangelists in the deep South. Along the way we meet the morbidly obese and extensively depraved Saul and his brother Leon, the singer cum actor. We meet crack-heads, anorexics, and snake handlers, and are reminded that bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly... and yet they do. Oh, and Carl Jung and Virgil are key figures, too. It’s a wise-cracking tour de force that touches on sex, suicide, addiction, sex, the stories that trap us, sex, and a deeply humane view of what it should mean to us to lead our lives. From chase-like sequences in RVs to the retelling of the story of St. Francis of Assisi, Ferguson’s writing is deeply entertaining and moving, never stepping away from a sharp comedic outlook while sharing interesting asides on myoclonic twitches and the etymology of “cutting to the chase”. The book is at its best in the set pieces, and three morality tales are particularly strong. It’s well worth a read: you’ll not regret it, in your own time between the bridge and the river.