#Stella Prize 2019 shortlist Enza Gandolfo
- Well, here is my next shortlist: Stella Prize 2019
- I won’t have much time to read them all because
- the prize will be announced on 09 April 2019.
- But I will give it ‘the old college try’
- …is it only to make an informed decision
- …as to which book I THINK should win!
Shortlisted books: 1/6
- Author: Enza Gandolfo (1973)
- Title: The Bridge
- Published: 2018
- Trivia: shortlisted 2019 Stella Prize ($ 50.000 prize!)
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- Backdrop: On October 15, 1970, while it was under construction
- …the West Gate Bridge collapsed, killing 35 workers.
- It was Victoria’s worst ever workplace accident.
- Main plot is driven by Jo Nielson (19 yr)
- She is racked with guilt after the car she drove
- crashed against the basr of the bridge.
- Her BFF Ashleigh was killed.
- Subplot: Nello (bridge rigger) Ash’s grandfather
- …is suffering PTSS
- He survived the bridge collpase and his friends died.
- Now he is haunted…the bridge takes another victim.
- Nello’s world and Jo’s world
- …come crashing down on them.
- 1970 – Ch 1-3 Dramatic description of bridge collapse.
- 39 yrs later…
- 2009 – Ch 4-23 Friendship Jo and Ashleigh, car accident, funeral, Jo’s depression
- 2010 – Ch 24-30 Jo’s day in court.
Weak point: too many narratives to follow
- This weakens the drive of the story.
- I felt the novel never came alive
- …it just dragged on and on.
- The large cast of characters
- ..gives the book that TV soap opera feel.
- I don’t mean that as a criticism.
- But there is just too much in a book of 384 pages!
- It is a maze of…
- teenagers – parents, teachers,
- grandparents, great-grandparents,
- lawyer – lawyer’s best friend Ada
- …in-laws , ex-husbands
- old friends who worked on the bridge,
- …their wives, children or miscarriages!
- A series of connected stories
- …that revolve around the collapsed bridge.
- The death of Ashleigh (major character) feels like
- ..another one of the stories going on, rather than the main plot.
Weak point: too much backstory:
- We all want to know about a character’s past.
- Gandolfo should decide whose story she’s telling.
- You can’t tell everything.
- I’m overwhelmed byall the flashbacks
- dream sequences and the
- …memories that keep surging and spilling
- every time Jo (main character) touches the fabric of a dress,
- …hears a song
- or opens a pink ballerina journal.
Weak point: book needs editing!
- The author is often the one least able to see what need to be removed!
- Ask a reader! Ask an editor!
- Gandolfo needs someone to tell her
- …which scenes are unnecessary or should be shortened.
- Here are a few things that I noticed:
- Bridge collapse:
- I did not need…
- technical specifics about the bridge.
- Ch 1-3
- felt like Wikipedia with some dialogue,
- moaning of iron girders, crashing slabs of concrete
- ..bolts snapping and explosions.
- This information could have been concise
- …and compact in one short exposition chapter.
- Sarah the lawyer:
- I did not need…
- to know her weight problems and
- the haunting death of her BFF Ada (jumped from the bridge).
- I think the lawyer’s backstory was ‘filling’ to evoke emotions.
- Ch 17 Funeral
- I did not need…
- to know every detail of funeral service
- …..who attended, style of the mourning clothes on family members,
- the color of coffin and flowers and
- rosary beads wound around gandmother’s fingers.
- I think this could have been written in a few sentences
- Establish somber mood with a description of the weather. (rain?)
- Remember the service while riding home from church.
- Cherish the tearful hug given by parents or friends. Done!
Weak point: dialogue.
- Feels static, heavy and does not shines off the page.
Weak point: Gandolfo is killing her novel with details!
- Pages of details that slow the pace and aren’t interesting or relevant.
- Example ch 15 – Ash’s journal is found and Jo places in Grandpa’s safe.
- But don’t go on to tell me the history of the safe
- …that is was a bargain and
- …grandma’s precious pearls that are kept there.
- I don’t care!
- Often what you don’t say is just as important as what you do.
- Few things will turn readers off
- ..quicker than pages of trivia!
- Unfortunately I could not find any strong points
- …about this book. Believe me, I tried.
- It is impossible to grasp fully that this book
- would be considered for the Stella Prize.
- Where is the jury’s report?
- I’d like to read it!
- Did you read this book?
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