Okay, I have been formally challenged to prove that The Bridges of Madison County is not the worst book in existence.
The worst book ever!
I laughed when this challenge was issued. All I knew about Bridges was that Clint Eastwood was in the movie with Meryl Streep and there are never fewer than four copies of it in the thrift stores around here.
“Do you really hate it?” I asked. “Do you hate that it did so well?”
“Yes and yes,” came the reply. This was from a person who doesn’t waste much energy hating things. This was from a person whose judgement I usually trust. So I was intrigued. I got a copy at work and read it all yesterday. It’s short.
I had a great time but I have to say that I spent the entire book laughing. Really laughing, like listening-to-David Sedaris-laughing. But while Sedaris does intentional comedy, Robert James Waller does not. It was good for me. It was healthy. I feel revived and my stomach hurts from an intense, draining hilarity that I experience too seldom.
It was as funny as a book can be, particularly during the wild night when Francesca and Robert give in to their passion. Holy crap, I’m starting to laugh right now. You really have to read it to understand. I could not begin to describe it.
I followed Janette around all night reading her passages and saying “Why can’t you give me compliments like this?” and “How come you never say I’m like a star creature from the tail of a comet?” and “Do you think I might be one of the last cowboys too?” And then I’d read something and laugh some more and she’d groan and say “Please, just let me go to sleep.”
But! Is it truly the worst book ever? Not for me. If I can get through a book and it entertains me this much, it can’t be the “worst” by any standard I use. In fact, reading Bridges was such a party that it practically brought me back to life. I might actually love it.
But for perspective, if you really want to make this analysis, here are a few books I can take more seriously and that are better-written and that feel more realistic to me.
- Twilight–if you’ve followed this blog for long, you know what it means for me to say that. But it’s true.
- 50 Shades of Gray–I read it so I would know what all the fuss was about. Turns out, the fuss was that people are fussing. The only things that are special about this book are the sales figures and the fact that it has generated so much controversy over such tame material, in my opinion.
- Any other romance in existence, even the ones with time traveling vikings.
Now then, over to you. Do you agree with the original assessment? Could Bridges possibly be the worst book? What would you nominate in its place?
Also: I love Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep and I imagine the movie is a perfectly serviceable romance.