Yesterday I knocked out another book with Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey. I watched a film version of this story starring Robert De Niro and Kathy Bates several years ago (while working the night shift at the front desk of a college dorm). I have wanted to read the book ever since but never seemed to find a copy. Fate finally intervened, and among the books left in my classroom by its previous occupant I found San Luis Rey. Perhaps an accident, perhaps an intention.
The book begins with a brief recounting of the titular bridge’s collapse, which sent five people plummeting to their death in a deep gorge in the Peruvian Andes. A monk witnessed the accident and decided to investigate the lives of each person killed in an effort to determine the divine reason behind such a tragedy. The novel is not the account produced by that monk, but is instead a look at the victims as they truly were, instead of the versions presented by their friends and loved ones to the monk following the accident.
I loved this book. Wilder is an excellent writer and creates characters so realistic that the reader occasionally forgets that the accident and its victims are fictional. The theological and philosophical questions raised by such an ‘Act of God’ are offered up for the reader’s consideration, but Wilder does not present his own answers. The plot is interesting, the characters are sincere, and the subject matter is thought-provoking. You can’t ask for much more in 150 pages.
The Current Count:
59 Read, 41 To Go