Cover image for The bridge
The bridge
Marlette, Doug, 1949-2007.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
ix, 388 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



From the Pulitzer Prize-winning Doug Marlette comes a captivating story of family and forgiveness, of indomitable women and their courageous, headstrong men. It is the story of an enduring friendship, and of a bittersweet longing as old as Shakespeare and as contemporary as today's headlines.

Pick Cantrell is a successful newspaper cartoonist whose career has hit the skids. Fired from his job in New York and in the grip of a midlife meltdown, he returns with his wife and son to a small North Carolina town, where he confronts the ghosts of his past in the form of the family matriarch and his boyhood nemesis, Mama Lucy. While attempting to renovate an old house and repair his damaged marriage, Pick discovers his family's ties to the historic home and his own connection to a place he belonged to long before it ever belonged to him. What follows is an extraordinary story within a story, as Pick uncovers startling truths about himself and about the role his grandmother played in the tragic general textile strike Of 1934, one of the least-known major events of American history.

Moving from the frontlines of New York City publishing to the storied backroads of the old South, The Bridge is a sweeping and poignant tale of love and betrayal, forbidden passions and longburied secrets, of a man's struggle with his heritage and with himself. And the ancient bridge where past and present meet.

A novel both comic and tragic-and written with the same wit, insight, and unflinching honesty Marlette has long brought to his prizewinning cartoons -- The Bridge explores how much we ever really know about others, and, most important, about ourselves.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the tradition of Pat Conroy, Reynolds Price, and Clyde Edgerton, Marlette adds a new voice to southern family fiction. The Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist turns his kinetic powers of observation on familiar turf--the dysfunctional southern family--to bring us a portrait of reflection, resolution, and redemption that explosively transcends time and place to bridge generations and build legends. When editorial cartoonist Pick Cantrell returns home to rural North Carolina after destroying his fledgling big-city career, he has to do more than combat the personal demons that cost him his job. In the unlikely person of his 90-year-old grandmother, Mama Lucy, a diminutive spitfire who continues to dominate generations of Cantrells with her ironclad control, Pick confronts not only his past but hers as he exposes disturbing secrets that shaped a region and damaged a family. Seamlessly blending Lucy's oral history with Pick's contemporary crises, Marlette masterfully evokes the fierce familial bonds that can either devastate or liberate the human spirit. --Carol Haggas

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although admirably ambitious and sporadically engaging, this altogether disjointed and overstuffed (not to mention disappointingly self-conscious and contrived) roman ? clef marks the fiction debut of a gifted and perceptive artist, widely acclaimed as a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and for the homespun philosophies and humorous insights of his syndicated comic strip, Kudzu. Unblushingly autobiographical, the novel follows the self-destructive adventures of Pick Cantrell, an "enfant terrible" editorial cartoonist who has risen to eminence at the Sun, a Long Island daily newspaper that purports to represent the cutting edge of urban sophistication. When he attacks his publisher after he is fired over a controversial, unflattering cartoon of the pope, Cantrell buys a rundown old mansion and with his beautiful cinematographer wife, Cam, and young son, Wiley retreats to his ancestral roots near Chapel Hill, N.C., to lick his wounds. While he begins the restoration of the historic manor house, Cam resumes her career and becomes the breadwinner. On his home turf, Cantrell is thrown back into conflict with his ogreish paternal grandmother, Mama Lucy, and the pulpy tale bounces between Pick's first-person narration of his domestic struggles (Cam is resentful of his granny and practically everything else), and Mama Lucy's third-person recollections of the bloody cotton mill strikes of 1934. Pick and Cam's conflicts are pure soap opera, and Pick's antipathy for Mama Lucy is too petty to generate real empathy, but the intriguing peeks into history are well worth suffering for. 7-city author tour. (Oct.) Forecast: Advance hype and an impressive roster of blurbers Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, Rick Bragg, Joe Klein and Kaye Gibbons, among others should move this title. Aimed point-blank at Conroy readers, it even sports jacket art by Conroy's cover artist, Wendell Minor. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Fired from his job as political cartoonist for the New York Sun, Pick Cantrell returns, with dread in his heart, to his North Carolina roots to take the barbs of his typically Southern family for being uppity and leaving home in the first place. Chief among his critics is his paternal grandmother, Mama Lucy, whose vitriolic tongue has shaped the lives of her progeny for as long as Pick can remember. Although he falls victim to her indictments, he eventually makes his peace and learns of her colorful past in the bargain. A Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist and creator of the comic strip KUDZU, Marlette has written a first novel based on tidbits of family lore, primarily concerning his grandmother Gracie Pickard, whose involvement in the bloody Great Textile Strike of 1934 inspired his portrait of Mama Lucy. This work of oppression, rebellion, family tradition, love, and death sheds light on a little-known chapter of North Carolina history and contains just the right mix of humor and dignity. Recommended for all public libraries. Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.