August 2013: Mr. Bridge

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August 2013: Mr. Bridge

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1tloeffler
maig 10, 2013, 9:15pm

And for August we'll read the first runner-up from the May Hat Round: Mr. Bridge by Evan Connell. We'll get down to dates later. Just be prepared!

2lindapanzo
maig 16, 2013, 12:29pm

Thanks, Terri. This'll give me a chance to read Mrs Bridge first.

3tloeffler
jul. 8, 2013, 9:43pm

Just a reminder: We'll be discussing Mr. Bridge in August! Maybe start on the 19th? I'll be out of town on the 12th, and the 5th seems awfully soon. Thoughts? Suggestions? Complaints? Bring it on!

4sjmccreary
jul. 8, 2013, 9:47pm

sounds OK to me

5brenpike
ag. 19, 2013, 12:53pm

Everyone ready?

6sjmccreary
ag. 19, 2013, 10:14pm

start without me - I've begun but not finished yet

7tloeffler
ag. 24, 2013, 4:45pm

Sorry to be late--it's been a busy week.

I liked this book, although I didn't really like Mr. Bridge very much. After I finished it, I felt compelled to re-read Mrs. Bridge, and I'm glad I did. It really made me appreciate the author's talent. I expected both books to relate the same incidents from different points of view, but it wasn't like that. There were some shared incidents, but I found it interesting that each book focused on the things important to the character. Mr. Bridge was a man of his time, and whether I like it or not, that was how men behaved. I especially like the way the children came across differently in each book, based on how that particular parent felt about the child. I'd like to have seen stories from the children's viewpoints!

8brenpike
ag. 25, 2013, 2:05am

I agree - it would be interesting to read from the kids perspectives. I remember hearing my sister describe a shared event once and being totally shocked at how very differently she'd perceived everything about it!

I also really liked both these books. Connell is such a skilled writer and I felt the structure of the books was very effective. The short, almost terse, chapters were like little peeks into their lives. As I read Mr. Bridge it felt like the short, to-the-point chapters reflected his personality and how he approached things and people around him.
I enjoyed the references to KC landmarks. How did that feel for you out-of-towners?
Mrs. Bridge had some very funny stuff . . . The image of her asking complete strangers (male, of course) to parallel park her behemoth vehicle after her failed attempts makes me smile. . .
Has everyone seen the movie version with Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward which was filmed in KC. I've been around long enough to remember when it was being filmed and think of it as I drive by the house used in the movie.

I'll quit rambling now . . . I obviously enjoyed revisiting these books and these characters. Good choice!

9Donna828
ag. 26, 2013, 5:32pm

Oops, I didn't have a star attached to this thread for some reason. I read Mrs. Bridge followed by Mr. Bridge in 1991. I was very much taken by India's story. She reminded me of some of my friends' mothers. My mother was busy all the time with cooking and cleaning and didn't seem to suffer from India's ennui -- mainly because she was a reader! Housework was something to be gotten out of the way so she could read. I have read Mrs. Bridge two times since then; once in 1996 when I reviewed it and counted it among my Top Ten for that year...and then again in 2010!

I haven't read Mr. Bridge since the first time in 1991. I guess I wasn't as taken with it. Lol. My ratings are quite different, but I have an explanation. Mrs. B. got 4.5 stars and Mr. B. is rated at 3 stars. Many of my pre-LT books, unless they were outstanding to me for some reason, got a generic 3-star rating. I know if I read it again -- as I should have this month! -- I would have rated it higher. I remember him as being a hard worker as an attorney and a typical father of the time who let his wife raise the children. He liked buying India special gifts like the Lincoln that caused her so much trouble, partly as a way to make up for his absence but also to show off his success in the world. These are sad books about two people who love each other but don't know how to show it.

I think Evan Connell is a brilliant writer. Up until this spring, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge were the only books of his that I had read. For a completely different reading experience, I recommend Son of the Morning Star, a comprehensive look at the treatment of the Indians leading up to the time of Custer's debacle at the Little Big Horn. Amazing!

10tloeffler
ag. 30, 2013, 8:25pm

Just because some of us don't live in Kansas City doesn't mean we've never been there, Brenda! A lot of the landmarks were familiar to me, and I think that enhanced the story. I have never seen the movie, although I have always wanted to. Now I want to even more. Maybe we need to schedule a movie night.....

I had never heard of Son of the Morning Star until Jim mentioned it on my 75 thread, and it leapt right on to my TBR list. I'll bet it's good!

Have we said all we need to say? Our threads just get shorter and shorter. Did we have a plan for October? I know, I could look, but then I'd have to copy all of this onto Notepad, and it's just too much trouble. If we don't, would you like for Keith to pick some books, or since there are so few of us any more, shall we just say what we want to read next? We'd better hurry--he starts his new job Tuesday, and he may be too busy for us!

Although I seriously doubt that. I told him that the only bad thing about his new job is that I will never have any more evenings at home alone unless he gets a social life. I seriously doubt that will happen either...

11sjmccreary
ag. 30, 2013, 10:08pm

I'm still only half finished with the book, and wishing we'd read it immediately after Mrs Bridge. I don't remember any details from the first book, and can't remember which events are common to both and which are unique to this one. But I'm enjoying it and would like to read something else by this author.

As far as an October book, I don't think we've done anything - I think we decided June and August back in the spring. Quick, have Keith draw some titles before he gets too busy!

12tloeffler
set. 1, 2013, 3:19pm

I felt the same way, Sandy, which is why I re-read Mrs. Bridge as soon as I finished. It didn't take long; I probably skimmed it since I had read it already. But it looks to be about half the size of Mr. Bridge.

13sjmccreary
set. 1, 2013, 10:50pm

Mr is twice as long as Mrs? That at least explains why I'm not finished yet - it seemed like I was putting forth at least as much effort as I had on the earlier book, but not twice as much!

I finished the chapters that were about Ruth first being caught with a man on the sofa and then moving to NYC and her father visiting her there. Those were the first events that I remember also being described in Mrs Bridge.

14Donna828
set. 2, 2013, 2:39pm

Sandy, I got a laugh out of your twice the effort comment. I guess since Connell wrote it years after Mrs. Bridge, he had time to think of more things to say! Lol. I liked that he put some of the same scenes in both books but didn't overdo it. I do think the reading experience is much better if the two books are read close together. I hope you check back in again with your final thoughts when you've finished the book. Take your time...it's a long one. ;-)

15sjmccreary
set. 4, 2013, 9:51am

Donna, I, in turn, got a laugh from "your take your time" comment. The book isn't especially long, but it took me a surprisingly long time to read it. (Which might have nothing at all to do with the book, in truth.) I finally finished it this morning.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't remember the Mrs book very well, but I don't remember her being as introspective as Mr. He spends a lot of time thinking about things and about his opinion of things and justifying those opinions to himself. Did he ever change his mind? What I remember about the other book was that she spent a lot of time doing things - taking care of the kids and the house and visiting friends.

I found this book, and Mr Bridge, to be quite sad. He loves his family, but is unable to adequately express that love. His whole life reminds me of someone who very much wants to dance, but spends the entire evening sitting and watching everyone else instead. The last few sentences of the book sum it all up.

16tloeffler
set. 4, 2013, 7:44pm

Mrs. Bridge wasn't as introspective as Mr. Bridge, because he did all her thinking for her! That was one of my takeaways from the Mrs. book--which is why she was so helpless in the end. This one was a sad book. Sadder still because I think that was probably the way things were in a lot of families during that time period.

17brenpike
set. 4, 2013, 9:32pm

I agree Terri. In that era and class, women were definitely subservient to their men.

18sjmccreary
set. 4, 2013, 11:45pm

I read through some of the reviews for Mrs this morning, which helped me remember a little bit more about it. What I think was the saddest thing of all, was that she had nothing substantial to DO - no paying job for sure, I don't remember her doing any volunteer work, she didn't even do her own cooking or cleaning. She shopped and fretted over the children, and probably lunched with the ladies. Which is great fun when we all do it, but then we get to go back home to our regular work.

And Mr knew she had nothing to do - he wondered more than once how she could sit and do nothing for a length of time, but justified it by acknowledging that she had nothing else to occupy her time, so it was OK. How could he not encourage her to find something productive to do? He certainly seemed to encourage his daughters to make the most of their lives. What was her purpose in life? Broodmare?

Speaking of sex, did anyone else think it was creepy the way Mr seemed to be aroused by his daughters? I wonder if that is a common thing with men. If so, I'm glad they keep quiet about it - ick.

19brenpike
set. 5, 2013, 1:47am

The fact that Mrs didn't have to do her own housework, cooking, etc. was a credit to their station in life. Mr took pride in the fact he could provide so well for his wife and family. I wonder if women of that era would have actively sought out activities other than those which supported their families and, in particular, their husbands advancement? Appearances counted for a lot, so she might not have been supported by Mr if she had wanted to work at a job or volunteer situation.
She definitely wasn't much of a risk taker. Didn't she distance herself somewhat from the only woman in their group who thought outside the box and behaved in non traditional ways (the woman who eventually committed suicide)? It seemed like Mrs was interested in this woman but was scared to really befriend her.

20sjmccreary
set. 5, 2013, 12:47pm

I keep trying to imagine my Grandma behaving as Mrs did - they would have been about the same age, I think (born 1902). Of course, Grandma wasn't of the the same "station in life" as the Bridges, but she worked in my Grandfather's store, keeping the books (and in fact took care of all the bills and record keeping for the household until she was widowed in 1987). She kept a garden and preserved the produce she raised to feed the family. She kept an immaculate house. She volunteered at church and taught children's Sunday school for many years. I think, even if they had been of the class that provided hired help for housework, she still would have found something productive to do with her time. She might have behaved as her husband wished, but I don't think she would have ever stopped thinking for herself.

21tloeffler
set. 7, 2013, 3:46pm

Sandy, I think your "station in life" comment is significant. My grandmother, although she didn't work, had nine children and a bricklayer-husband whose work was seasonal. My other grandmother was a sharecropper's wife with five kids. They didn't have hired help, so there was plenty of housework and laundry to keep them busy. I think in the case of the Bridges, he didn't want her to have to do anything, without realizing that if she had something to do, she may have been happier. She would have preferred having him home more to getting a big car that she didn't really want.

22sjmccreary
set. 7, 2013, 4:02pm

Their's was really a very sad situation, wasn't it? Despite the comfortable home and big car.