Review – Doug Goheen

November 28th, 2010

It has taken me a while to read Dr. Robert Lawson’s The Bridge of Dreams.  I attribute this in equal parts to my own lack of discipline and to Lawson’s challenging writing choices.

Unconventional in many respects, the novel, in non-linear fashion, explores the third quarter of the American twentieth century, primarily through the eyes of its protagonist, Jack.  As narrator of this journey, he is more the passive observer than the four vibrant women who so deeply affect him throughout.

About 90% of the tale is told through dialogue; the remainder is exposition supplied by Jack.  The technique results in substantial numbers of monologues for each of the major characters.  Lawson emphasizes words over action.

Readers well-versed in American, European, and Japanese literature will appreciate the numerous allusions throughout.  Additionally, each of the first 24 chapters begins with one of Lawson’s sonnets, which serves to illuminate the narrative thereafter.

Interestingly, Dr. Lawson is in the process of adapting his work into four dramatizations, three of which have been completed.  Each focuses on one of the influential women in his life.  This venue worked even more successfully for me.  In particular, the plays seem well-suited for a readers’ theatre format.

Though I don’t believe I totally grasped every literary reference in the works, particularly those to Japanese literature, I nonetheless appreciated both forays into The Bridge of Dreams.