Bridge of Clayby Markus Zusak Published 09 Oct 2018
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The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance.
At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle.
The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?
"Bridge of Clay" Reviews
I won an arc copy of this book in a pub giveaway!
I was really confused in this book, more so in the beginning until I got used to how this was being written. The Bridge Of Clay is a book I will have to revisit time and again to get all of the tidbits that we miss at times. Especially in a book like this; family, sorrow, hope, change, love, death. It's life. It's death. It's a family both past and present. It's something I can't put into words, I just feel it.
A RELEASE DATE AT LAAAAAAST OCTOBER BETTER GET HERE REAL QUICK
That only took, like, a lot of fucking time. But we have a release date.
Well, what can I say about this book? I found it totally mesmerising! It took a while to get going, but suddenly you find you can't put it down!
It follows the lives of the five Dunbar boys, told from the point of view of the eldest Matthew, but it concentrates on the fourth boy Clay. After their mother dies and their father abandons them, the boys are left to raise themselves in the suburbs of Sydney. Markus Zusak tells a remarkable tale here, the bridge of the title being both physical and symbolical. The timeline does jump around a bit, but this doesn't really detract from the story.
It also touches on horse racing, and having an interest in the Sydney racing scene it was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. I did laugh at the racehorse called Engadine (yes Markus and I share the same hometown, though I don't personally know him!)
All in all, Bridge Of Clay is a wonderful, riveting book,and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Okay, this space is just going to become a dumping ground of stuff I learn about Bridge of Clay until the book actually comes out and I read it, die and then come back to fill it with a proper review.
Update 20 Nov: From the Markus Zusak Facebook Fanpage Here (worth regularly stalking btw) Markus posts some excerpts from BOC as per below:
(Markus Zusak's own words)...here's a small piece or two from Bridge of Clay that I revisit regularly and work on:
Once, in the tide of Dunbar past – long before kitchens and boys, and murderers and mules – there was a many-named woman. And what a woman she was.
First, of course, the name she was born with: Penelope Lesciuszko.
Then the one christened at her piano: the Mistake Maker.
Her factory name was Penny Lessing.
Her unfortunate, self-proclaimed nickname was the Broken-Nosed Bride.
And last, the name she died with: Penny Dunbar.
Quite fittingly, she had travelled from a place that was best described by a certain phrase in the books she was raised on.
She came from a watery wilderness.
Many years ago, and like so many before her, she arrived in the city with a suitcase and a scrunched-up stare. She was immediately astounded by the mauling light of the place.
This city. It was so hot and wide, and white.
The sun was some sort of barbarian, a Viking in the sky. It plundered, it pillaged. It got its hands on everything, from the tallest stick of concrete to the smallest cap in the water. Typically, too, it was just Penelope’s luck; she’d shown up on a scorcher.
In her former country, in the Eastern Bloc, the sun had mostly been a toy, a gizmo. There, in that far-off land, it was cloud and rain, and ice and snow that wore the pants – not that funny little yellow thing that showed its face every now and again to remind you it was around. In that place, the warm days were rationed. Even on the boniest, barren afternoons, there was a chance of moisture. Drizzle. Wet feet. It was communist Europe at its slow-descending peak.
In a lot of ways it defined her. Escaping. Alone.
Or more to the point, lonely.
She would never forget landing here in sheer terror. From the air, in a circling plane, the city looked at the mercy of its own brand of water (the salty kind), but on the ground, it didn’t take long to feel the full force of its true oppressor. Her face was dappled immediately with sweat. Outside, she stood with a flock, a herd, no – a rabble – of equally shocked and sticky people.
After a short wait, the lot of them were rounded up. They were corralled into a sort of indoor tarmac. The light globes were all fluorescent. The air was floor to ceiling heat.
“Oh, Jesus.” The man in uniform stood on his toes and looked above the heads and hordes of new immigrants. What a mob of hot and sorry faces! He found the man he wanted. “Hey, George! Bilski! I got one here for you!”
But now the woman who was nearly twenty-one but appeared sixteen gripped him firmly in the face. She held her charcoal-coloured booklet as if to strangle its edges of air. “Parshporrt.”
A smile, of resignation. “Okay, love.”
She knew no-one here.
The people who’d been in camp with her for nine months in the Austrian mountains had broken away. While they were sent, family after family, west across the Atlantic, Penelope Lesciuszko was to make a longer journey, and now she was here.
She was here and she had to execute her plan:
Get to camp. Learn English better. Find a job, and a place to live. Then, most importantly, buy a bookshelf. And a piano.
At that moment, those things were all she wanted from this new world laid searingly out in front of her. As time went by, she got them. She got them all right, and a whole lot more...
Update 7 Oct: He just put this on his Facebook like 10 minutes ago and I saw it because I am a stalker.
Chapter titles appearing in BOC:
* Shake Hands with the Criminal
* Carey, Clay and Matador in the Fifth
* The Surrounds
* The Forces are Displayed
* The Immigrant's Dictionary
* The First Thoroughbred
* The Pugilists, and
* The Murderer Wasn't Always the Murderer, You Know
So, very Markus is all I can say :-)
Housekeeping 01 Sept: I've edited the publication date of this from 2011 to 2012. On Markus Zusak's official Twitter (http://twitter.com/markus_zusak) he replied to a fan's question about when it was due with:
@jlaz5 Hi there, I'm still writing. If I can finish by end of this year it'll be out next year for sure. Thanks for the kind words...
Update 01 Sept: I also discovered on his Twitter that the opening sentence to the novel is this:
"In the beginning, there was one murderer, one mule and one Clay..."
Okay. I love it already.
*deep breath* I'm ready to write this review.
Markus Zusak is my all time favourite author and with Bridge of Clay he has just solidified that position further. I fell in love with his writing in The Book Thief and then The Messenger and now with Bridge of Clay. I always tell people that going into his book, don't expect them to be anything alike (except for extraordinary writing) because they are all so individual and different from each other, it's actually kind of amazing.
Bridge of Clay is a book based around family and heartbreak. It's very much a character driven book and although you're thrown into this story, right into a house with five brothers and given a tonne of information, you just need to buckle up your seatbelt and keep going. I struggled with the first 50 pages or so and then suddenly it was 3 am and I was sobbing and my eyes were red and puffy. I myself have a big family and I could related to these characters because in all of them, I could see my own family. And the characters in this are perfect. These well thought out, flawed, realistic, Australian, funny, unique, brave characters came to life on the pages. They went beyond just being a character written in a book, Zusak gave them life.
The writing. I don't need to say much. It's fucking amazing.
There will be tears in this book. Bring tissues.
I have a customer that comes into work every Thursday. His name is Doug and we bonded over Markus Zusak and over the last eight months we've become really great friends. I lent him copy of this book to read and he left little notes throughout it and it's a copy I will treasure forever. And soon we're going to go and meet Markus Zusak at a book event and we're so excited. These books have changed my life and they've also introduced wonderful people to me too.
I loved it so much.