Fiction Mary Lawson The Other Side of the Bridge

ISBN 13 : 9780099437260

The Other Side of the Bridge

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9780099437260: The Other Side of the Bridge
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Prologue

There was a summer back when they were kids, when Arthur Dunn was thirteen or fourteen and his brother, Jake, was eight or nine, when for weeks on end Jake pestered Arthur to play the game he called knives. Jake had a great collection of knives at the time, everything from fancy little Swiss Army jackknives with dozens of attachments to a big sleek hunting knife with a runnel down one side for blood. It was the hunting knife that was to be used in the game because according to Jake it was the best for throwing.

“Just once, okay?” Jake would say, dancing about barefoot in the dust of the farmyard, tossing the knife from hand to hand like a juggler, leaping back quickly if it decided to fall blade-first. “Come on, just once. It’ll only take a minute.”

“I’m busy,” Arthur would say, and carry on with whatever task his father had set him to. It was the summer holidays and the list of tasks was unending, but it was better than going to school.

“Come on,” Jake would say. “Come on. You’ll love it! It’s a really good game. Come on!”

“I gotta fix this hinge.”

Jake had explained the rules of the knife game to him and it was crazy. You stood at attention facing each other, about six feet apart, and took turns throwing the knife into the ground as close as possible to your opponent’s naked foot. You had to be barefoot, Jake explained, or there would be no point to the game. Wherever the knife landed, your opponent had to move his foot alongside it. The idea was to make him do the splits bit by bit, as slowly as possible. The more throws the better. The smaller the distance between the still-vibrating steel and the outer edge of your brother’s foot, the better. Nuts.

But in the end, as they had both known he would, Jake wore Arthur down. That was Jake’s specialty–wearing people down.

It was a warm evening in July, the end of a long hot day out in the fields, and Arthur was sitting on the back step doing nothing, which was always a mistake. Jake appeared around the corner of the house and saw him, and his eyes started to shine. Jake had dark blue eyes in a pale triangular face and hair the colour of wheat. At nine years old he was slight and reedy ( frail was the word their mother used) and already good-looking, though not as good-looking as he would be later. Arthur, five years older, was big and slow and heavy, with sloping shoulders and a neck like an ox.

Jake had the knife on him, of course. He always did; he carried it around in its own special sheath with its own special belt-loop, so as to be ready for anything. He started badgering Arthur right away, and eventually Arthur gave in just to get it over with.

“Once, okay?” Arthur said. “ Once. I play it once, now, and you never ask me again. Promise.”

“Okay, okay, I promise! Let’s go.”

And so it was that on that warm July evening when he was thirteen or fourteen years old–at any rate plenty old enough to know better – Arthur found himself standing behind the line his little brother had drawn in the dust, waiting to have a knife thrown at his bare and vulnerable feet. The dust felt hot, warmer than the air, and soft as talcum powder. It puffed up between his toes every time he took a step and turned them a pale and ghostly grey. Arthur’s feet were broad and meaty with red raw patches from his heavy farm boots. Jake’s feet were long and thin, delicate and blue-veined. Jake didn’t wear farm boots much. He was considered by their mother to be too young for farm labour, though Arthur hadn’t been too young at the same age.

Jake had first throw, by virtue of it being his game and his knife. “Stand at attention,” he said. His eyes were fixed on Arthur’s left foot and he spoke in a hushed voice. He had a great feeling for the drama of the moment, had Jake. “Keep your feet together. Don’t move them, no matter what.”

He took the knife by the blade and began swinging it loosely between finger and thumb. His forefinger rested easily in the blood runnel. He seemed scarcely to be holding the knife at all. Arthur watched the blade. In spite of himself, he felt his left foot curl inwards.

“Keep it still,” Jake said. “I’m warning you.”

Arthur forced his foot to lie flat. The thought came into his mind–not drifting gently in but appearing suddenly, fully formed, like a cold hard round little pebble – that Jake hated him. The thought had never occurred to him before but suddenly, there it was. Though he couldn’t imagine a reason. Surely he was the one who should have done the hating.

The knife swung for a minute more, and then, in one swift graceful movement, Jake lifted his arm and threw, and the blade circled, drawing swift shining arcs in the air, and then buried itself deeply in the ground a couple of inches from the outside edge of Arthur’s foot. A beautiful throw.
Jake’s eyes left the ground and he grinned at Arthur. “That’s one,” he said. “Your turn. Move your foot out to the knife.”

Arthur moved his foot outwards to the edge of the knife and drew the blade from the ground. The skin on the top of his left foot was stinging, though nothing had touched it. He straightened up. Jake stood facing him, still grinning, arms at his sides, feet together. Eyes bright. Excited, but without fear. Without fear because – and Arthur saw this suddenly too – Jake knew that Arthur would never risk throwing really close.
Arthur.

Biographie de l'auteur :

Mary Lawson's first novel, Crow Lake, was admired by critics and adored by readers all over the world; translated into 23 languages and published in 25 countries, it was a New York Times bestseller and spent 75 weeks on the bestseller lists in her native Canada. It was chosen by You magazine for its Reading Group and won the McKitterick Prize. Her second novel, The Other Side of the Bridge, was longlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize and selected for the Richard & Judy book club. Lawson was born and brought up in a farming community in Ontario, but came to England in 1968. She is married with two grown-up sons and lives in Kingston-upon-Thames.

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Mary Lawson, Mary Mobbs
Edité par Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom (2007)
ISBN 10 : 0099437260 ISBN 13 : 9780099437260
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Description du livre Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. État : New. 194 x 128 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Arthur and Jake: brothers, yet worlds apart. Arthur is older, shy, dutiful, and set to inherit his father s farm. Jake is younger and reckless, a dangerous to know. When Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community, an already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point. N° de réf. du libraire AAU9780099437260

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