rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is about the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, its impact on the city and residents, and the toll it collected from the workmen who brought it to life. The Bridge plays a central role in Sydney culture today, learning a bit about its birth, I think, needs to be included in teaching Australian history. Not just for the benefit to Sydney-siders but to know more about the people and culture from the time of its building.
The story though is not an easy read, especially for someone (like me) who's eyes glaze over when conversation turns to detailed technical specifications. But don't be put off, there is no info-dumping. It is the character's personality, his obsession with the Harbour Bridge, and his desire to educate everybody around him on its feat of magnificence. Looking back over his life, the main character, bed-ridden with a stroke, relives his favourite years. The times when life really meant something and passion ruled his thoughts and actions.
The author breaks through reminiscences with less-rosy reports on the growing cost in human life. Fills in gaps with stories of a parish in decay, not through natual attrition but through fast-moving progress.
Stick with this one and you'll experience a slice of life not usually looked at in an area not quite as "famous" as the other side of the bridge though both areas must have been similarly afflicted.
When you've finished, catch the train to Milson's Point, go for a walk around to Lavender Bay and look up at that bloody bridge. I wonder if the bridge-walkers have any inkling of what it is that they're traipsing all over.
I wonder too what the Reverend Ralph Cage would have thought of Luna Park...
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