The Bridge is my favourite of Iain Banks’ fiction novels. After seeing it on a friend’s book shelf I read it in a near panic one humid summer’s afternoon in London. It’s short and drags you along by throwing more and more questions into your path. It is exactly the type of novel I want to read, exactly the type of novel I want to be able to write.
It has been claimed by at least one source that it is actually set within Iain M. Banks’ (his sci-fi writing alter-ego) Culture universe. It’s more likely that Mr Banks’ was just trying out some of the ideas that would later make it into those novels.
Set between three aspects of the same man, The Bridge explores his waking life and a history of it, and a coma world where the present in the story is set.
In the coma the man lives on a vast bridge, suggested to be hundreds or even thousands of miles long. He is psychoanalysed by day and dreams at night.
One of these dreams involves him trapped on a smaller mobile bridge that keeps him forever just a few paces away from his desires. There’s a Marxist analysis of this that’s fairly obvious but I think upon re-reading it this time I was more struck by what a feminist might say. If you think you can further my understanding of this excerpt from that POV, please let me know.
In the mean-time, I mostly love this section for the end. As Mr Banks always did best he leaves the reader with a very powerful image.