59 Glass Bridges
By Steven Peters
In 59 Glass Bridges, an unnamed narrator travels through a maze that is at once mutable and immutable: walls fall to vine-filled forests, hallways to rivers, bridges to lamp-lit boats. What remains is the desire to escape. He is led along his harrowing path by Willow, a mysterious ... Read more
In 59 Glass Bridges, an unnamed narrator travels through a maze that is at once mutable and immutable: walls fall to vine-filled forests, hallways to rivers, bridges to lamp-lit boats. What remains is the desire to escape. He is led along his harrowing path by Willow, a mysterious figure who cajoles him and responds to questions in a winking sphinx-like manner, with answers that are often more baffling than clear. Interspersed are the memories of the narrator, of his childhood and adolescence, and of his grandmother, a wise artist who at once pushes his creativity, while leaving him the freedom to craft his own journey.
Playing with the imagery and landscapes reminiscent of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, Steven Peters' debut reveals how pivotal moments in our lives give substance and shape to the labyrinths in our minds.
Steven Peters was born in Winnipeg and currently works as a copywriter in Calgary. He earned his Master's Degree in English at the University of Calgary, where he annoyed his creative writing instructors by sneaking fantasy into perfectly serious Canadian Literature. He has an abiding love for coffee, sweater vests, and Sir Patrick Stewart. 59 Glass Bridges is his first novel.
Of course, there is no monster in this maze. Still, I can't help but compare myself to Theseus as I unravel a bright red mitten and trail the lengthening string behind me.
The comparison is imperfect. Theseus' ball of yarn anchored him to the labyrinth's doorpost--a surefire exit strategy. My string dangles. Theseus delved into his labyrinth willingly, hunting the monster that haunted its halls. I . .. well, I'm not sure how I got here.
No Minotaur, though. That's a plus.
I pretend I'm a mythical hero hunting for an exit, because it's better than the reality: I was probably kidnapped, then dropped off in an abandoned building when they realized my net worth was in the red. Nobody's forking up a ransom for li'l old me.
I have no memory of the past . .. day? Maybe longer. I'm in an abandoned office building, or something like it. And whoever put me here took my clothes, and dressed me in the most ridicul--hmm.
There's a fork in the path.
I look back the way I've come--down a long, empty hallway. Not "empty" as in "devoid of people," but really empty. There are no seats set against the wall with cracking pleather cushions; no vending machines pimping sugary beverages; no polyethylene plants in plastic IKEA pots. And, more conspicuously, no doorways branch off, no dents deface the drywall, and no scuff marks mar the linoleum tile. I've seen nothing to distract me from this purgatorial plane of white.
But here, two paths diverge.
I look left. More hallway. I look right. Ditto. Each path is identical, as far as I can tell, and each promises an undifferentiated adventure in blandness.
I arbitrarily choose the right-hand passage and trail my mitten's innards around the corner. I revel in the vein of cherry red in a world of inoffensive whites.
- Best Speculative Fiction at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards 2018,
Praise for 59 Glass Bridges:
"59 Glass Bridges is, by far, one of the most memorable reads I've enjoyed in a long time. "
~ Deborah Vail, PRISM international
"59 Glass Bridges is pleasingly raw and exuberant in its execution. .."
~ Aaron Shepard, The Malahat Review
"Peters offers a strangely compelling tale of postmodern disorientation and salvation, one with roots in a past that it acknowledges as authoritative, but to whose authority it refuses to surrender definitive interpretive prerogative. This is a powerful work from an extremely promising writer. "
~ Stephen Dunning, Canadian Literature
"59 Glass Bridges reminds readers that in the maze of life, we parse our way through the labyrinth of fears and hopes with a child's perspective. In this novel, the guiding thread of dreams and desires unravels the minotaur within, inescapable, ineluctable, irresistible. "
~ Aritha van Herk, author of Restlessness
"At once irreverent and unflinchingly-honest in its examination of childhood and the pasts that make up who we are, 59 Glass Bridges is a blend of myth and memory. "
~ Jenny Ferguson, The Collapsar
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