25 May 2014

The Bridge


Synopsis from inside jacket cover: The year is 2035. For over forty years the Ecologists have had their way and the killing by man of any living thing has been outlawed. Insects, fish, plants, and animals abound, in fact run rampant, revered by all but a few such as Dominick Priest. Priest still believes in the primacy of man.
In this adventure story of the future, D. Keith Mano demonstrates once again his concern as a novelist with the situation about to arise, the problem as yet unforeseen, the solution not yet quite arrived at.
THE BRIDGE tells the story of Dominick Priest's adventures, in a world that may come to be.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, published by Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1973. Given to me by my mom when she cleared out some books from her personal library.

First line: At the crest he could hear the first ee-thud, ee-thud of the mortars.

My thoughts: This is a weird book. Weird, weird,weird. I didn't love it, yet I was disappointed when I reached the last page.

The story is set in New York in 2035, and all killing has been completely outlawed, whether it be man, beast, or microorganism. Much of the country has been taken over by wildlife, with buildings falling down, decaying, crumbling apart. Humans live on a man made liquid diet called E-diet. Acts of aggression have also been outlawed. People can't even argue with each other without being arrested. Raised voices? No. No voices at all. Humans communicate with a type of sign language, using their fingers to tap out messages against another person's arm.
Tumors had been declared an autonomous life form, no less valid than the life form of their hosts. In any case, the doctors could do little. Drugs, x-rays, surgery were illegal: they destroyed unconscionably high numbers of bacteria.” pg 51

Dominick Priest was arrested for playing chess by himself – a competitive game. But he is unexpectedly released, along with all his fellow prisoners, under a government mandate for all humans to eliminate themselves for the good of the planet. Everyone is given a suicide pill, and are expected to use it within a certain period of time. Priest sets out on an odyssey to find and reunite with his wife. In his travels, he meets up with an actual priest, who teaches him a bit about ancient (to him) Christianity.

The prologue and epilogue are both set even farther in the future, where Dominick Priest is the current population's spin on Jesus Christ. When I said earlier I was disappointed to reach the last page, it's because we leave Priest at the end of his travels, with only a brief glimpse into how he attains his later exalted status. An abrupt end to his story that wasn't the end of his story, and I wanted to stay with him for awhile. 

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