On the evening before the first snow fell, he saw a large bird frozen in the waters of the Hudson River.
–Colum McCann - This side of brightness - c.1998, 1999.
In the early 1900s New York’s subway was in the process of being excavated. Working as sandhog was decent enough money, but it was dangerous work. As this book begins four men are about to be blown out through the under-river tunnel and out into the Hudson. Three survive, the other’s body is never recovered.
In the 90s those same tunnels are now home to those who have no home. They provide limited shelter for the homeless who seek refuge there, although often they are still in danger from others who share the tunnels. Treefrog lives in one of these subway sections.
Told in alternating, seemingly unrelated, chapters the story revolves around two men; Nathan Walker and Treefrog.
I enjoyed the style this was written in. It is very easy to read, but not in s “skip a bit” way. But the story just didn’t really work for me. I liked the Nathan parts, but Treefrog didn’t really keep my attention to the same degree. His world was harsh and depressing, but I never really felt that. His life always felt at a distance from me as I read the book, actually a lot of the book felt like that. A look at other people’s lives rather than a “crawl inside and feel what the characters feel” sort of book.
Interesting enough but nothing I’d rave about.