Review – David Tangeman

January 30th, 2010

Here in Robert Lawson’s Bridge of Dreams, a sort of prairie Hamlet exists, haunted not by his father’s ghost, but by his murdered wife. Like Shakespeare, the author uses sonnet and theater. (Each chapter, in fact, opens with a sonnet.) Like Hamlet, the central character of Jack in this novel is drawn to theatricality. Jack begins the novel teaching drama in a Midwestern university, but soon finds himself swirled into plots conjured by the talented women who populate this novel. Throughout his own drama, Jack remains passive, torn between the events surrounding the death of his ambitiously detached actress wife—for whom marriage, including motherhood, is a mousetrap—and his search for a romantic happy ending as a lover, as a husband, as a father. Robert Lawson revives the art of conversation. His characters speak and, thus, reveal their passions and their web of friendships and betrayals. For the educated reader, especially that reader versed in Shakespeare and Japanese literature, Lawson creates allusions that will satisfy.