Exerpt (2) How does the story continue?

New English word? Translate any word using double click.

The page below is from a very recently published novel. The author has written a large number of highly successful stories, many of which have been adapted to movies. He likes experimenting with different genres from science fiction, magic realism, fantasy, crime and suspense, to name just a few. His books often relate to current topics of social or political relevance, and frequently, though not always, include supernatural elements or twists. All stories evolve around human relations and conflicts. His strength lies in creating atmoshere and drawing the reader into the story – you feel you are there. He creates complex characters and a vivid sense and atmosphere of the locations or places where events unfold.

Pre-reading vocabulary

  1. Match the words to the definitions underneath
newbiesdeemto bless or give one’s blessings
threadto opt for sthspan

a) a longer route that is taken to avoid sth or visit sth that is along the way

b) an inexperienced newcomer to a particular activity

c) religious rite conducted by a cleric asking for divine favor or protection of sth or s.o.

d) a long thin strand of cotton or other fibres used for sewing; a theme or characteristc   

    running through a situation or piece of writing

e) owner of a business or property

f) take down, destroy intentionally often to put up something new

g) extend from one side to another

h) here: a determined weight limit (find word in text)

i) extraordinary event causing astonishment for having been accomplished or for having


j) to prefer a different choice

k) appearing on the verge of collapse; loosely or carelessly constructed

l)  to consider

2. Check images for:

shed, padlock, shackle, turnpike, steel grating, semi and long-hauler

3. Describe what you see to the others in your group

4. Find instances of THAT in the text and determine what they refer to in each case

5. Explain the sequence shiver, shake and rumble

Find all words in the text. Check if they are used in their literal sense or metaphorically, especially the words listed under 2.

The Goddam Bridge. The Miracle. The Howling.

I’m sure I can tell this story. I’m also sure no one will believe it. That’s fine with me. Telling it will be enough. My problem – and I’m sure many writers have it, not just newbies like me – is deciding where to start. My first thought was with the shed, because that’s where my adventures really began, but then I realized I would have to tell about Mr Bowditch first, and how we became close. Only that never would have happened except for the miracle that happened to my father. A very ordinary miracle you could say, one that’s happened to many thousands of men and women since 1935, but it seemed like a miracle to a kid.

Only that isn’t the right place, either, because I don’t think my father would have needed a miracle if it hadn’t been for that goddamned bridge. So that’s where I need to start, with the goddamned Sycamore Street Bridge. And now, thinking of those things, I see a clear thread leading up through the years to Mr Bowditch and the padlocked shed behind his ramshackle old Victorian. But a thread is easy to break. So not a thread but a chain. A strong one. And I was the kid with the shackle clamped around his wrist.

The Little Rumple River runs through the north end of Sentry’s Rest (known to the locals as Sentry), and until the year 1996, the year I was born, it was spanned by a wooden bridge. That was the year the state inspectors from the Department of Highway Transportation looked it over and deemed it unsafe. People in our part of Sentry had known that since ’82, my father said. The bridge was posted for ten thousand pounds, but townies with a fully loaded pickup truck mostly steered clear of it, opting for the turnpike extension, which was an annoying and time-consuming detour. My dad said you could feel the planks shiver and shake and rumble under you even in a car. It was dangerous, the state inspectors were right about that, but here’s the irony: if the old wooden bridge had never been replaced by one made of steel, my mother might still be alive.

The Little Rumple really is little, and putting up the new bridge didn’t take long. The wooden span was demolished and the new one was opened to traffic in April of 1997. ‘The mayor cut a ribbon, Father Coughlin blessed the goddam thing, and that was that,’ my father said one night. He was pretty drunk at the time. ‘Wasn’t much of a blessing for us, Charlie, was it?’ It was named the Frank Ellsworth Bridge, after a hometown hero who died in Vietnam, but the locals just called it the Sycamore Street Bridge. Sycamore Street was paved nice and smooth on both sides, but the bridge deck – one hundred and forty-two feet long – was steel grating that made a humming sound when cars went over it and a rumble when trucks used it – which they could do, because the bridge was now rated at sixty thousand pounds. Not big enough for a loaded semi, but long-haulers never used Sycamore Street, anyway. There was talk every year in the town council about paving the deck and adding at least one sidewalk, but every year it seemed like there were other places where the money was needed more urgently.  I don’t think a sidewalk would have saved my mother, but paving might have. There’s no way to know, is there? That goddam bridge.

We lived halfway up the long length of Sycamore Street Hill, about a quarter of a mile from the bridge. There was a little gas-and-convenience store on the other side called Zip Mart. It sold all the usual stuff, from motor oil to Wonder Bread to Little Debbie cakes, but it also sold fried chicken made by the proprietor, Mr Eliades (known to the neighborhood as Mr Zippy). That chicken was exactly what the sign in the window said: THE BEST IN THE LAND. I can still remember how tasty it was, but I never ate a single piece after my mom died. I would have gagged it up if I tried.  (…)

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