...captivating ... impassioned is Aaron Thier’s wonderfully zany new novel, The World Is a Narrow Bridge ... told in ambitious floating paragraphs that cover an absurdist range of subject matter, including neutrinos, Matt Damon, rain shadows and the systematic genocide of indigenous peoples ... The humor is essential here ... While the novel sags in moments of tangential exposition, its prose is powerful, filled with dread and compassion — a welcome surrealist take on Alexis de Tocqueville.
With deep tenderness and a wonderful, feather-light sense of humor, Mr. Thier rehearses ancient conundrums over free will and the existence of evil while itemizing the blessings that make life worth the suffering ... Despite its irreverence, The World Is a Narrow Bridge is genuinely religious, a book that looks at existence with equal measures of fear, humility and gratitude. In a time when novelists tend to be more concerned with psychology than the soul, that makes it a rare and valuable thing.
... thoughtful ... the moments where Thier suspends his gentle skewering of the sorts of people Murphy and Eva represent are genuinely wonderful ... The World Is a Narrow Bridge... is as rudderless as its characters in search of something meaningful. It tells a story about wandering aimlessly while literally wandering and digressing in a narrative sense, dipping and curving along pathways of thought and philosophy, jumping among seeming non sequiturs that charm as often as they frustrate ... The structure of the prose matches the plot of the story, which is stylistically clever but doesn't translate into seamless enjoyment.
This is a laugh-out-loud novel (Eva is directed by Yahweh to show up at random events and publicly proclaim him God, awkward hilarity ensuing), but by no means should it be taken lightly or read quickly. It is a deeply intellectual, philosophical treatise on what it’s all about in such troubling times, with a good deal of focus on the nature of evil in the world ... It is oddly uplifting, prodding the reader to examine the uncertain nature of a perilous existence. There is, after all, hope in a world that is far from perfect, and Eva and Murphy are doing their damnedest to catch glimpses of it. Want a plot driven novel where the destination is the focus and all is neatly resolved in the end? Don’t read this book, you will only be frustrated. Want a rambling, innovative, cerebral, and wildly entertaining 'trippy' journey that drives home essential questions while providing none of the answers? Aaron Thier’s The World Is a Narrow Bridge may be just what you’re looking for.
In previous novels, Thier (Mr. Eternity, 2016) proved himself to be an imaginative and deeply funny satirist capable of bringing the past, present, and future to life. His latest is rooted in age-old concerns and contemporary issues alike: free will, race, politics, and environmentalism. While these subjects may sound heavy handed, Thier tackles each with sly humor and fully realized, progressive protagonists ... As always, Thier is hilarious and provocative, his worldly insights sagely and frighteningly on the mark.
How can we accept that the world is the way it is?' is the novel’s overriding inquiry. Thier’s prodigious facility with language and penchant for stinging irony are evident. However, even metafiction has one basic requirement—to evoke pity and fear for the human predicament—and this is where the 'narrow bridge' collapses. Successful as neobiblical allegory; as a novel, not so much.