First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Louis Charles Lynch (also known as Lucy) is sixty years old and has lived in Thomaston, New York, his entire life. He and Sarah, his wife of forty years, are about to embark on a vacation to Italy. Lucy’s oldest friend, once a rival for his wife’s affection, leads a life in Venice far removed from Thomaston. Perhaps for this reason Lucy is writing the story of his town, his family and his own life that makes up this rich and mesmerizing novel, interspersed with that of the native son who left so long ago and has never looked back.
And after a long week at the office, it is finally the weekend! Happy Friday everyone! I just attended another KPop concert and my back is aching. Maybe I really should get seated sections next time. HAHA. Anyway, I had fun because I got the chance to see the group I have been supporting for the past four years. I hope you all had a great end to the week as I had. I also hope that everyone will enjoy the weekend and that we will all be able to rest and recuperate. Time is certainly zooming past us as in a matter of days, the tenth month of the year will end and we will be welcoming a new month. With the year dwindling down to its final days, I hope that your prayers have been answered. I hope that all you worked hard for in the past months will get repaid. More importantly, I hope you are doing well, in your body, mind, and spirit. I hope everyone will stay healthy. As we enter the last two and a half months of the year, I hope that the rest of the year will be kind and gentle to everyone.
My update is quite late this week because I was too tired because of the concert and I played tennis earlier today. Anyway, I am still pushing through with this First Impression Friday (Saturday) update. When October started, I already for it to be an extension of my September American literature month. Of the vast ambit of literature, it is American literature that I have explored the most. In the past few years, I have been trying to diversify my reading lists but a step into American literature is inevitable. However, the goal this year is to tick off books from my ongoing reading challenges, most of which form part of American literature. I recently realized that I have been lagging behind on my reading challenges and goals. I have this tendency to neglect these challenges until toward the end of the year, hence, I always end up cramming before the year ends. Thankfully, there is still time to make up for lost time and I must say that I have covered quite a good ground.
Last week, John Irving’s The World According to Garp brought me to New England. My current read, Richard Russo’s Bridge of Sighs brought me to a place not that far. The sixth novel by Russo, and his first since winning the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his novel Empire Falls (2001), Bridge of Sighs takes the readers to the (fictional) upstate New York town of Thomaston. The focal point of the story is Louis Charles (“Lucy”) Lynch who we first meet in the contemporary as a sixty-year-old. He has spent his entire life in Thomaston and was married to Sarah, her high school sweetheart. From the contemporary, the story flashes back to his childhood where we meet an awkward young boy. Lucy was the only child of Big Lou and Tessa Lynch. His father was an optimist, naively so. Meanwhile, his mother was a realist. However, her portrayal bordered cynicism because Lucy was pretty much like his father. Early on, the son favored the father.
Big Lou’s optimism played an important role in the story. Beyond the Lynch family, the town figured prominently in the story. We see a town that was in decline. The old establishments that were once teeming with activity have gone inactive and some even closed. The rich are living their old houses and moving to other states. The signs were all over the town. Big Lou, who was born into humble beginnings, refused to see things as they are. When he bought a rundown shop called Ikey Lukins against his wife’s wishes, he was brimming with enthusiasm. His lack of foresight, however, was more than made up for by his wife. Slowly, they overturned their fortunes. From West End, where they used to live, they moved to East End. Yes, class divisions were vividly portrayed in the story, with the town divided fourth three distinct parts; the third section was the Boroughs where the rich lived while the last section was The Hill.
Another important element of the story was Lucy’s unusual and surprising friendship with Bobby Marconi. In the present, we learn that Bobby has left Thomaston and has been living in Venice where he lived as a painter. Their friendship added a layer of mystery to the story for Bobby was once a tough child, an antithesis to the timid Lucy. There is another layer of mystery added by the growing and concerning number of deaths related to cancer. Thomaston used to be a booming tannery town. The novel unpacked a lot and had several components, from that of the town to Lucy to his love affair with Sarah to his family. Among its several layers, the story also had elements of coming-of-age.
I am just waiting to find out how the story pans out. With just over a hundred pages more to go, I find my first novel by Russo compelling although there were elements that were rather concerning, such as his depiction of black men who were seemingly left on the seams, of both the story and of the town. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. For now, happy weekend! And as always, happy reading and take care!