Bawdy, joyous, messy, hysterically funny, and guaranteed to offend regardless of religion, race, national origin, sexual orientation, or profession Between the Bridge and the River is the debut novel by Craig Ferguson, host of CBS's The Late Late Show.
Two childhood friends from Scotland and two illegitimate half-brothers from the American South suffer and enjoy all manner of bizarre experiences which, as it turns out, are somehow interconnected and, surprisingly enough, meaningful.
An eclectic cast of characters includes Carl Jung, Fatty Arbuckle, Virgil, Marat, Socrates, and Tony Randall. Love, greed, hope, revenge, organized religion, and Hollywood are alternately tickled and throttled. Impossible to summarize and impossible to stop reading, this is a romantic comic odyssey that actually delivers and rewards.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American comedian, television host, actor, and writer. He is the current host of CBS's The Late Late Show, a role which earned him an Emmy nomination in 2006. He became an American citizen on February 1, 2008.
Between the River and the Bridge by Craig Ferguson
Am I glad I read this book? Yes. Am I disappointed that I used up my time reading this book when I could have been reading something else? No. Will I ever read this book again? No. Will I recommend this book to anyone else? No. Did I enjoy this book? Yes. Did I love this book? No.
I can't quite put my finger on what is wrong with this book. It has the potential to be a great book. Craig Ferguson is a very funny man and his book contains some very funny moments. He is a wonderful raconteur and this book includes some wonderful chapters. He is, obviously, a well read man and the book demonstrates this quite often. He has thought a lot about religion and the nature of the universe and he manages to crowbar this knowledge into the book. And that is the probably the problem with this book. There are whole moments when, instead of reading the book worrying about the characters/plot/scenery, you end up thinking - ok, the author has obviously done his research on Carl Jung and knows way more about his theories than I do. There are moments when you become distracted because you spend more time trying to get the literary reference than following the point of the story.
For example: at one point, one of the main characters is accosted by an old man in a Parisian park. The old man mentions that the love of his life was a woman called Simone. Now, I know that I should be reading and concentrating on what the old man is saying but, at the back of my head, I am desperately trying to work out who the old man is. When, at the end of his appearance he tells the character that she is pregnant, rather than be mystified by his knowledge or happy at this information, I was more involved with the line: "please, name your child after me, Jean-Paul". My joy was in knowing that the old man was Sartre, rather than in the plot development. My disappointment was in not working out who h was before the final clue. Surely the point of a story shouldn't be a competition between the author and the reader as to who is the cleverer (more clever)?
It's a good book but it really says nothing new. It has the chance to look at the problems in religion - the differences between Catholics and Protestants in Scotland/the "born agains" in the USA -, to confront what the author sees as fundamental flaws but, instead, Mr. Ferguson seems content to drop into "comedy monologue" mode. He produces something that would be entertaining on television but I wouldn't want to pay for it.
And there is the punchline - I wouldn't want to pay for it. I suggest you don't either.
Absolutely fantastic. Probably my favorite work of fiction. Sprawling, hilarious, touching, insightful, profane, and overall meaningful. Interesting how several different storylines end up being brought together into a cohesive whole. Clearly influenced by author's experiences with controlled substances. I believe this is a love it or hate it kind of book, and, full disclosure, I am a big fan of the author's TV show and standup comedy.
Easily one of my favourite books. I'm an avid fan of Mr. Ferguson, and I was quite impressed with his first novel. It's a wildly fun romp that doesn't forget its place as a moral messenger to the masses. Mr. Ferguson's literary debut cements him in place as the smartest man on television- one of those rare people who can balance comedy and a raw sense of reality in a way that really hits home. I can't wait for his next endeavour!
Admittedly, I didn't have high expectations for this book. It's written by a late night talk show host, for crying out loud! But shockingly enough, I loved it. Now, having said that (and given it four stars), let me say that doesn't necessarily mean I recommend this book for everybody. There's definite language and sexual situations involved that will prevent 90% of everyday readers from enjoying it.
If, however, you can look past that, it really is a great read. Ferguson does a fabulous job of weaving together a masterful and diverse set of characters whose lives intertwine in the most unimaginable ways that make you want to read the next chapter, and the next, just to see what they'll do next. I can't say that it's a book I'll be rereading regularly, but I definitely don't regret spending my time on it.
Oddball Scotsman Craig Ferguson is already up there with Letterman and O'Brien as a late-night talk show host, but he's an even better author than TV personality.
This is brilliant. The writing is terrific, fun, insightful, and hilarious. The story and the characters are pretty fantastic too. There are a lot of meaningful points Ferguson makes, but the whole thing's pretty zany. In rare moments, the story is nicely realistic, but it tends to blend the wildly unlikely with the entertainingly impossible--all of it packed with wonderful truth.
While the end was quite good, it didn't come together with quite the impact I was hoping, but, along the way, I did find myself exclaiming, "this is genius!" too many times not too call this one of my favorite books.
Between the Bridge and the River is a brilliant exploration of the collective unconsciousness! Craig Ferguson is not only an entertaining talk show host, musician and non-fiction writer: he could easily have a huge career as a full-time novelist! I loved the imagination behind this one, with cameos by the poet Virgil, the horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft, psychologist Carl Jung and others. An intellectual's picnic! I would have deducted half a point for a few nit-picky things here and there, but I love Craig Ferguson and will read anything he writes! The man is brilliant.
Following is the reader's guide that I discovered after reading the book. I only wish I could discuss them in detail with you.
If your group has decided to discuss my book then let me first of all thank you for your attention and time.
Here are a few random thoughts that may stimulate your discussions.
I began the book with five statements. Apologia, History, Confession, Time, and Science. Why are these statements made so early? Are they rules for the world you are about to enter? If they are, are the rules followed? Are the statements truthful or accurate? Does this matter?
The first chapter of the book is entitled Alpha Wolves, the last chapter is called Omega Man. This is obviously a biblical reference. Do you think I'm drawing any conclusions about God in the book? Is this a religious work? What constitutes a religious work or act? Can writing, even if it contains dissension and doubt, be an act of worship?
Is all art an act of worship?
There are some sexual acts described in graphic detail. Is this salacious? Why is photographed sex "pornography" but written sex "literature"? Is that true? Is fictional sex better than the real thing?
Someone who read the book early on said that Carl Jung [ed. note: Jung appears to one of the book's characters in a series of dreams] was my father figure. I thought Jung might be an imagining of the Deity, or maybe just the ghost of Carl Jung. What do you think?
A few characters in the book are already dead but this doesn't seem to slow them down much. Does the continuance of life after death prove the existence of God? If it does, then does the existence of life before death prove the existence of God? Is it a good idea to prove the existence of God? What happens to faith if you have proof? Do you need faith if you have proof? Is the existence of faith an admission that there is some doubt as to the existence of God?
Claudette believes that evil is born in the victim excuse. Do people really use injustice committed on them in their past to justify their actions? Do you do this? Does your country? Your family? Your ethnic group?
Is it valid to use aggression or antisocial behavior on the descendants of those who persecuted your ancestors? If not, how are the wrongs of the past dealt with? Should they be dealt with at all? Is it enough to simply apologize? On a personal or even international level?
George attempts suicide. Is he morally wrong to do so?
The church founded by Saul and Leon is built on lies and deceit, yet Fraser thinks that this ultimately doesn't matter because it helps some people. Is he right?
There are many hidden literary references in the text. For example, the old Icelandic boatman who ferries Frasier across the underground sea is called Arne Saknussem, a lesser character in Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. Why do you think I did this? Was I just showing off or is there a reason for it?
What do you know of Jung's theory of the collective unconscious? Does it seem valid to you?
My heart was broken when I wrote this book. Is that the kind of thing necessary to stimulate creativity? Can a person be happy and creative?
I know the answers to maybe two or three of these questions.
I really enjoyed this book and was sorry for it to end. I'll miss the characters. It was a little hard to get going since there are multiple story lines going at once. But once I got into it, I couldn't put it down because I was so anxious to find out what would happen. I was a little surprised at the depth to Mr. Ferguson. Somewhat unexpected. However, since I have become a fan, I have made a point of reading much about him and watching various films and such and have discovered that I like him very much as a person. I think he is an ethical and compassionate person. I like him and I liked his book.
Between the Bridge and the River is one of those books that ten years from now I will remember with a slight smile, contemplating the profundity of life's little moments. I've always thought Ferguson was a great comedian, but he is an even better author. The way that the lives in this book intertwine with others is beautiful. This book with confuse you, it will make you laugh, it will make you laugh, and probably cringe a bit as well. It is an amazing book, one that I happened to pick up by chance when I was bored and had some time to kill. One of the happiest book accidents ever.
The official blurb (click on the title above) is pretty accurate. Ferguson is amazingly multi-talented: musician, actor, writer, standup comedian, talk-show host. He's written and acted in three movies, including Saving Grace and I'll Be There. He's presented his own series on Scottish archaeology, titled Dirt Detective. This novel reminds me a lot of those by Carl Hiaasen. It is astonishingly crass and vulgar in spots, wittily cynical, sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, sometimes apparently random, always entertaining. And as the blurb says, all the threads somehow come together in a rather sweet ending. Ferguson is very careful about real love and real religious sensibility, but he relishes sending up organized religion, especially of the televangelist variety. His biggest guns are reserved for Hollywood. And he manages to combine the two in the (popular among the stars) cult of Brainyism, founded by a bankrupt ex-carnival roustabout who died in the 1970's. "Brainastics were famous for their lack of humor and for being very sensitive about their faith. They would viciously counterattack anyone they even suspected of making fun of them or casting aspersions on their beliefs." It was "popular with people who were very ambitious and a bit stupid." Sound familiar? He throws away language jokes with careless abandon, such as naming a popular star (America's sweetheart) Meg Roberts. Or naming a hugely successful coffee-house chain "Stubb and Flask" after two shipmates on Melville's Pequod. Hmmm. Or the hugely popular celebrity expose magazine titled Peephole. Or the movie about a serial killer titled "Killing by Starlight" until it was changed by the Hollywood suits into "Big Friendly American Wedding Celebrity" thus using five of the 20 most popular feel-good words for Americans. In spite of all the fun, the novel has a serious core: the title refers to the (at least after Vatican II) Catholic teaching on suicide--that in spite of its being a mortal sin, if you sincerely repent after jumping off the bridge, there is the hope of redemption. The book is basically about how redemption is always possible, even at the last second. An inspiring view from a recovering alcoholic and former heavy drug user who, when he describes drug and alcohol abuse, knows first-hand what he's talking about. I guess my only objection is a picky one: in a section obviously modeled on Dante's Inferno, one of the characters is led in a dream through the desert of his soul by Virgil, who proceeds to tell a chapter-long story that is nothing like anything the real Virgil would have told. That bit of randomness bugged me, but then I'm peculiarly sensitive about Virgil. My own version of Brainyism, I guess.
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I never read books like this. At first I didn't think I would be able to get into it. So after about 30 pages I set it down, misplaced it, then found it again and started reading. I fell in love with it. I hope this book bounces around my circle of friends like a beachball at a Nickelback concert... I thought it very insightful and "my heart broke with every breath" during some parts. As much as I love watching him every night before bed I think he is wasting his time on tv, he should be at home writing!!!! can't wait for American On Purpose
If you like Craig Ferguson (host of the Late Late Show), you'll like this book. He is a smart guy with a quirky sense of language and timing. The book didn't blow me away, but it was an entertaining read, and provided some interesting commentary on Hollywood and TV evangelism.
We have, at the core of the book, two pairs of men traversing life, the globe, and the metaphysical in search of… something. Around that core we also have a truly problematic book to read today. The worst parts of Ferguson’s shtick (of which I can admit to, while I loved his late night show and his comedy specials) stand out in stark relief against the more nuanced aspects of his writing. He lays in repetitive phrasing in a way to form the Greek chorus in the background which I found highly enjoyable, but also appears to have not managed to write a single woman with agency in his entire book.
I feel guilty about this book. I stumped for it pretty hard to be the pick for Cannonball Read's Book Club this month, based on how much I loved Craig Ferguson's memoir, American on Purpose, and his stand up, and his stint on The Late Late Show. (American on Purpose is still the best celebrity memoir I've ever read, FYI.) But, I did not like reading this book. His signature wit and profanity, his cheeky observational skills, things that I love about him, were not put to a purpose here that I could appreciate.
I take comfort, though, that I was not the only person to make this mistake. It seems from looking at the reviews for this book on Cannonball Read that most of us either straight up didn't like this book, or tolerated it.
What it comes down to for me is that as much as I could appreciate Ferguson's skill, I did not like the way he deployed it. This book was so negative, cynical, from page one. There were a lot of great lines in this book, but they were all in service of a tone that I prefer to avoid in the books I read. I am an emotional/mood reader. If a book is competent and achieves the goal it sets out to achieve, that is still no guarantee I will like it if it makes me feel like shit, which this book did. Even though it did get better by the end, and ultimately ended in a place of redemption, that doesn't change the fact that I still had to read a bunch of stuff that made me feel terrible.
I had to go and read a bunch of fluffy as shit fanfic after finishing this, just to wash the taste out of my mouth. (I would have done this anyway.)
And all of this just makes me sad.
I think I am going to continue loving Craig Ferguson and his memoir and all the clips of The Late Late Show I can find on YouTube (Secretariat <3), but I'm going to forget I read this and that it exists.
Strange story, highly enjoyable book, I couldn't put it down until I finished. Ferguson's writing reminds me something of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide... books and Kurt Vonnegut. The story has a spiritual theme that is amusing and nice, not too heavy. A lot allegory in the story in the form of dreams, and one is not forced to the conclusion that the dreams are visions or just dreams. I would recommend this book to anyone, as long as they would not be offended by the portions of the books that involve sex, drugs, extra-marital relations, homosexuality, off-color language, I think that's about it. '^)
I have to confess that I did not finish this book. A third of the way in, I realized I sort of hated all the characters and didn't care what happened to them. And it turns out that if you mention bl*w j*bs on every other page, eventually even bl*w j*bs begin to lose their charm. Who knew, right?
It was entertaining in parts, but life is too short to read a book you don't love.
Comedy is probably the hardest genre to pull off, both in fiction and film -- every one's funny bone is set at a slightly different angle, and it's hard to pull off something that's consistently smart and funny. As a result, I'm always feeling slightly starved for comic fiction, and so I picked this up to try and fill the void. Ferguson has always struck me as smarter and funnier than most of his late night talkshow brethren, so I figured it was worth a shot.
And indeed, the one-liners come fast and furious in this antic picaresque redemption tale. It follows two pairs of protagonists: two Scottish men who were friends as boys, and two American half-brothers who we first meet on the run from foster care. One of the Scots is a sleazy televangelist who flees to America as his career crumbles amidst a sex scandal. The other is a terminal cancer victim who's facing death having led an utterly conventional life. Meanwhile, the two half-brothers (one is a bastard of Sinatra and inherited his easy handsomeness, charm, and voice, the other is a perverted behemoth with a canny nose for a deal) rise through the Hollywood food chain via a talent show, then sitcom, and the tabloid pages.
With its juggling of three protagonists back and forth across the Atlantic, back and forth through time, and with diversions into a dreamscape emceed by Carl Jung, the book is a little frantic and slippery. With Ferguson leveling potshots at all manner of cultural, political, religious, and philosophical beliefs along the way, it's hard for a reader to catch their breath. (And to be sure, commercial interests take a walloping at his hands as well.) This is only partially balanced by a somewhat conventional love story, and redemption of a sort for some of the characters. As with most comedy, the characters aren't very fleshed out, and the writing is mostly intent on driving from plot point to plot point via a route of gags and amusing turns of phrase, but if you're in the mood for something completely different and somewhat diverting, give this a shot -- twenty pages or so should give you enough of an idea if you'll like it or not. Ultimately, it's hard to dislike a book whose core message is that only important thing in life is to "help others."
I have to admit. I was hesitant. I found this on one of the circle twirly tables in the library that sucks you in with its passive aggressive suggestions. It was shiny. It had a neat cover. It was new, no binding creases or sticky residue. Okay.
Craig Ferguson? Isn’t he that pervy boss from that Drew Carey show from the 90s? He has a talk show now right? I’m old and haven’t watched late night since Letterman was funny. Ever more hesitant.
Okay, now this is downright just… is he making fun of me? I mean, you write a book and you get Mitch Albom and Lawrence Block to write the bookjacket testimonials? Really? And you expect self respecting booknerds to read it? This has to be some sort of underhanded snarkyness on Craig’s part. He’s testing me. Fine.
What I found: He can write. He really can. He’s like a good Christopher Moore with an acute case of ADD.
He starts off with an ‘apologia’: “This story is true. Of course, there are many lies therein and most of it did not happen, but it’s all true. In that sense it is deeply religious, perhaps even biblical.”
He defines time as: “ is only linear for engineers and referees.”
He says about science: “The laws of physics states that given the mass-to-wingspan ratio of a bumblebee, it is impossible for the creature to fly. But it does.”
And, this is just the first page.
I loved his rants, his innuendos, his observations. I thought his characters were human to a fault or many faults. His view of American culture is dead on. His acerbic wit puts me squarely in my humbled American pie Lazy-Boy.
Give this guy a shot. He might surprise you. Interestingly enough, this was written in 2006. What took so long for it to end up on my circle table???
This novel is a strange mixture of humor and seriousness. I initially enjoyed the novel for its duality, but then found as I went along that Ferguson's style of storytelling (far more telling than showing) became tiresome and I lost interest. Still, the book has a few gems in it:
"Fraser's mother, Janice, was actually quite a happy soul but she had to hide it because, like all pseudo-intellectuals,she thought being cheery made her look stupid, which of course she was for believing that rubbish in the first place. She liked to talk about Sartre, just as insurance" (27).
"I'll miss farting, he thought. Perhaps there's farting in the afterlife, although he doubted it" (32).
(Speaking to a deceased Carl Jung in a dream) "'Point taken,' Fraser concurred. 'You know any Nazis? Must be a lot of dead Nazis around.' 'No not many. Like I say, they were spiritually dead, so when the body goes, well, that's kind of it.' 'So there's only spiritual people in the afterlife?' 'Well, its a bit more complicated than that but you're on the right track. If the spirit is the only thing that survives, then there's not going to be much left of you if you have no spirit.' 'What about evil spirits?'" (51)
"God is probably fine with people eating apples, Eve wasn't actually made out of Adam's rib, and Jonah wasn't really eaten by an actual large fish. (Although it is probably true that the people of Sodom loved it in the pooper)." (58)
Sometimes I start composing my Goodreads reviews in my head as I'm reading. In this case, I started off thinking that Ferguson's experience as a drummer and a comic are evident in his writing. The first chapter is delightfully rhythmic; it almost begs to be read aloud. His characterizations of young George and Fraser are brisk, efficient and spot-on. There was definite 5-star potential here.
After a couple of chapters, though, I realized that this was reminding me more and more of A Confederacy of Dunces. I hated that book. I couldn't quite put my finger on the similarities (probably because I've tried to purge Dunces from my memory), but it probably has to do with the meandering, often absurd plot, plus an almost total lack of character development. Ferguson has a gift for capturing the essence of his characters in just a sentence or two, but then simply throws events at them -- like crafting a lovely pinata only to spend the rest of the day whacking it with a broomstick. Which I suppose is the point of a pinata, and which I also suppose is why this novel kinda works anyway.
A hilarious religious novel. At first I thought it was a collection of short stories because the first three chapters didn't seem to have anything to do with each other, but it turned out that the threads connected along the way. Fraser and George grew up together. Fraser becomes a Televangelist in Scotland. George becomes a Good Guy who gets cancer and realizes that's really pretty much all he is. The other main thread follows Saul and Leon, brothers who grew up in an orphanage, run away and end up founding a religious group that asks Fraser to a big conference in Atlanta. How he gets there and how Saul and Leon come to start their group is explored in the following chapters with brief check-ins with George. I really admire the writing style, particularly the asides in which the author tells us things about the characters, their ancestors, and odd connections between them and then says, "of course he didn't know that." There are myriad literary and pop culture references, but he veils them in an amusing way: a starlet called Meg Roberts, a playwright called Anthony Boyd-Webster, etc. I really want there to be a sequel to this, as I feel like it wasn't quite resolved, however I don't know that there's enough material for a whole 'nother book, maybe one that features or cameos some of these characters. I don't know. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it.
Picked this up recently at a library sale. Craig Ferguson's book is not immediately what you would expect from the late night talk show host. I have not watched his TV show extensively, but enough to think him a funny man. This book has funny moments, but is not laugh out-loud funny. It has humorous characters and settings, but in the end talks about death and faith with more seriousness than I expected (even after reading the breathless comments on the back). Overall a pleasant and quick read, because, even if it was sometimes too explicit with the sex, too thin with the characterizations, too commonplace at times in its religious conclusions, perhaps not long enough overall (even at over 300 pages), in the end the book had a tight plot and actual ideas to work out in that plot (and a rather thoughtful, not too snarky, reader's guide written by Ferguson himself).
I listened to this book, and unfortunately, Craig Ferguson's quick paced and lyrical reading of it is probably all that got me through. I love weird (I'm a huge fan of Christopher Moore, Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut, and Neil Gaiman), and I don't mind non-linear, or even segues, but this book was just too much of everything. It meandered through all of it's story lines, and in the end I suppose you feel where they were all leading to, but the end doesn't really justify the means. And many of the segues slow down the story considerably. It just feels like a first time novel from someone who isn't required to be a brilliant writer because the book will sell for other reasons. Which isn't to say that Ferguson is a bad writer- he's just a talented writer who hasn't been held to the same standard for publishing as other talented writers.
Humorous take on religion, tv evangelists, some pop-psych thrown in, and a whole lot of interconnected misfits. Everything comes to a head towards the end of the novel. And then, well.... we just sit in the grass at the side of the road and wait, I guess.
This was my 'breather book', a light, interesting read before I jumped headfirst into another long, heavy novel. Definitely the break I was looking for. For those who may not know Craig Ferguson is the funny scottish actor/late nite host, and I couldnt help but read this book hearing his accent in my head!
This book was a bit of a surprise. Ferguson has a lot of characters, each involved in their own story, none of which are apparently related to one another. Then at the end, he ties it all neatly together. I totally admire an author who can do that. This was a delightful surprise to discover about my celebrity crush, Craig Ferguson. (I wish he was signed on to Goodreads so I could "friend" him. LOL)
I don't hate a lot of books but I really hated this book. I was so looking forward to it because I love Craig Ferguson's stand up but I'm not such a fan of his fiction. I optimistically waited to laugh throughout the whole book and just never did. I found his characters pathetic, empty and meritless. The book just made me sad.
Definately one of the worst books of all time! It was pointless. It was hard to keep interest anyway when it's bouncing around from one person to the next, But when you get to the end and it just ends with no purpose or substance to this insane no plot story... it just sucks! I wish I would have never wasted my time on this book.
I stopped reading this book. The foul language was excessive, I guess I should have expected that from Craig Ferguson. I can normally get pass the language in books, but this was too much. The story line was interesting and I'm sorry to have to put it away. Why isn't there a Clean Flicks type of thing for books?
That is basically how I felt reading this book. I didn't care about the characters, I barely cared about the plot, even the little side plots that tried to intertwine with history and give the big nerds out there a giggle made me shrug. It's not a BAD book, but I didn't find it that great either.
This book was so disjointed and A.D.D. that I'm amazed I finished it. To say I disliked this book is an understatement. The best part was the period at the end of the last sentence. It may actually be the worst book I've ever read. Normally I'd feel terrible about a review like this but I just can't this time. It sounded like a promising story - It just wasn't.