This is a signed edition with limited copies available.
The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance.
At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle.
The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?
Written in powerfully inventive language and bursting with heart, BRIDGE OF CLAY is signature Zusak.
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Edition description:||Signed Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
portrait of a killer as a middle--aged man
If before the beginning (in the writing, at least) was a typewriter, a dog, and a snake, the beginning itself—-eleven years previously—-was a murderer, a mule, and Clay. Even in beginnings, though, someone needs to go first, and on that day it could only be the Murderer. After all, he was the one who got everything moving forward, and all of us looking back. He did it by arriving. He arrived at six o’clock.
As it was, it was perfectly fitting, too, another blistering February evening; the day had cooked the concrete, the sun still high, and aching. It was heat to be held and depended on, or, really, that had hold of him. In the history of all murderers everywhere, this was surely the most pathetic:
At five--foot--ten, he was average height.
At seventy--five kilos, a normal weight.
But make no mistake—-he was a wasteland in a suit; he was bent--postured, he was broken. He leaned at the air as if waiting for it to finish him off, only it wouldn’t, not today, for this, fairly suddenly, didn’t feel like a time for murderers to be getting favors.
No, today he could sense it.
He could smell it.
He was immortal.
Which pretty much summed things up.
Trust the Murderer to be unkillable at the one moment he was better off dead.
* * *
For the longest time, then, ten minutes at least, he stood at the mouth of Archer Street, relieved to have finally made it, terrified to be there. The street didn’t seem much to care; its breeze was close but casual, its smoky scent was touchable. Cars were stubbed out rather than parked, and the power lines drooped from the weight of mute, hot and bothered pigeons. Around it, a city climbed and called:
Welcome back, Murderer.
The voice so warm, beside him.
You’re in a bit of strife here, I’d say. . . . In fact, a bit of strife doesn’t even come close—-you’re in desperate trouble.
And he knew it.
And soon the heat came nearer.
Archer Street began rising to the task now, almost rubbing its hands together, and the Murderer fairly caught alight. He could feel it escalating, somewhere inside his jacket, and with it came the questions:
Could he walk on and finish the beginning?
Could he really see it through?
For a last moment he took the luxury—-the thrill of stillness—-then swallowed, massaged his crown of thorny hair, and with grim decision, made his way up to number eighteen.
A man in a burning suit.
Of course, he was walking that day at five brothers.
Us Dunbar boys.
From oldest to youngest:
Me, Rory, Henry, Clayton, Thomas.
We would never be the same.
To be fair, though, neither would he—-and to give you at least a small taste of what the Murderer was entering into, I should tell you what we were like:
Many considered us tearaways.
Mostly they were right:
Our mother was dead.
Our father had fled.
We swore like bastards, fought like contenders, and punished each other at pool, at table tennis (always on third-- or fourth--hand tables, and often set up on the lumpy grass of the backyard), at Monopoly, darts, football, cards, at everything we could get our hands on.
We had a piano no one played.
Our TV was serving a life sentence.
The couch was in for twenty.
Sometimes when our phone rang, one of us would walk out, jog along the porch and go next door; it was just old Mrs. Chilman—-she’d bought a new bottle of tomato sauce and couldn’t get the wretched thing open. Then, whoever it was would come back in and let the front door slam, and life went on again.
Yes, for the five of us, life always went on:
It was something we beat into and out of each other, especially when things went completely right, or completely wrong. That was when we’d get out onto Archer Street in evening--afternoon. We’d walk at the city. The towers, the streets. The worried--looking trees. We’d take in the loudmouthed conversations hurled from pubs, houses, and unit blocks, so certain this was our place. We half expected to collect it all up and carry it home, tucked under our arms. It didn’t matter that we’d wake up the next day to find it gone again, on the loose, all buildings and bright light.
Oh—-and one more thing.
Possibly most important.
In amongst a small roster of dysfunctional pets, we were the only people we knew of, in the end, to be in possession of a mule.
And what a mule he was.
The animal in question was named Achilles, and there was a backstory longer than a country mile as to how he ended up in our suburban backyard in one of the racing quarters of the city. On one hand it involved the abandoned stables and practice track behind our house, an outdated council bylaw, and a sad old fat man with bad spelling. On the other it was our dead mother, our fled father, and the youngest, Tommy Dunbar.
At the time, not everyone in the house was even consulted; the mule’s arrival was controversial. After at least one heated argument, with Rory—-
(“Oi, Tommy, what’s goin’ on ’ere?”
“What--a--y’ mean what, are you shitting me? There’s a donkey in the backyard!”
“He’s not a donkey, he’s a mule.”
“What’s the difference?”
“A donkey’s a donkey, a mule’s a cross between—-”
“I don’t care if it’s a quarter horse crossed with a Shetland bloody pony! What’s it doin’ under the clothesline?”
“He’s eating the grass.”
“I can see that!”)
—-we somehow managed to keep him.
Or more to the point, the mule stayed.
As was the case with the majority of Tommy’s pets, too, there were a few problems when it came to Achilles. Most notably, the mule had ambitions; with the rear fly screen dead and gone, he was known to walk into the house when the back door was ajar, let alone left fully open. It happened at least once a week, and at least once a week I blew a gasket. It sounded something like this:
“Je--sus Christ!” As a blasphemer I was pretty rampant in those days, well known for splitting the Jesus and emphasizing the Christ. “If I’ve told you bastards once, I’ve told you a hundred Goddamn times! Shut the back door!”
And so on.
Which brings us once more to the Murderer, and how could he have possibly known?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the first time I've written a review before actually finishing the book. Wow! I am in love with this book! I can't put it down and I dont want it to end!! I love the Dunbar boys so much, they break my heart, especially Clay. The writing flows like poetry and I love the way the book goes back and forth thru time. Matthew is an awesome narrater. This is a masterpiece and I can't wait to continue reading. Markus Zuzack you rock!!
The title character of this novel, Clay, is the fourth of five sons in a family that lives in the Sydney suburbs of Australia. The narrator is Matthew, the oldest son. The other sons in descending order are Rory, Henry, and Thomas. Penelope, the mother and a Polish refugee, died of cancer, and Michael, their father, abandoned them six months after her death. Since the responsibility for raising his brothers fell on Matthew’s shoulders, he resents his father and refers to him as “the murderer”. Rory is the one who gets into the most fights, but he manages to stay out of prison throughout the book; Henry is the wheeler-dealer who always is working on some sort of money-making scheme; Clay is the sensitive one who is a champion 400 meter runner and has a girlfriend, Carey, who is an aspiring jockey; and Thomas is an animal lover who assembles a menagerie of pets. Penelope’s father back in Poland was an avid reader of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and he passed his love for the stories on to her. In turn, she passed on her love for them to her sons, who name most of their pets after characters in the stories. For example, their mule is named Achilles, and their cat Hector. Penelope was also a promising concert pianist who, with her father’s encouragement, requested asylum during a trip to Austria several years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. She eventually settles in Australia, although she never plays professionally again. She meets Michael when a piano is delivered to her apartment. She forced the boys to at least try to learn to play it, but was unsuccessful. As a teenager and young man, Michael admired Michelangelo and dreamt of becoming a painter, but his career stalled and he became a construction worker instead. His first wife, Abbey, was an ambitious woman who left him when her business career took off. The bridge in title refers to a project somewhere in the boondocks that Michael has begun. His goal is to build a bridge over a riverbed that is dry most of the year but floods periodically. He returns home to recruit his sons to join him, but only Clay goes back with him. Reportedly it took Zusak, the author of 2005’s The Book Thief, over a decade to write this book. It certainly held my attention, but I thought it was overwritten in the sense that there are too many sub-plots presented in a non-linear manner that are tedious at times. The best scenes are those that describe Penelope’s three year battle with cancer.
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak was ten years in the making so I was expecting big things from this story and I wasn’t disappointed. The story opens with Matthew, the oldest Dunbar boy, bringing home the old TW, the typewriter of a Grandmother they never knew. Let me tell you about our brother. The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay. Everything happened to him. We were all of us changed through him. This is Clay’s story as told by Matthew in an omniscient point of view. Whilst Matthew insists this is Clay’s story it is in fact a story of the Dunbar family and how they came to be. This is Penelope Lesciuszko’s story, Michael Dunbar’s story and also their combined story with the lead up of what was to come and what it is now; a family of ramshackle tragedy. Zusak’s short sentences read like poetry and you often need to stop and take in the meaning behind the words. Both parents were readers, for their mother it was The Iliad and the Odyssey, for their father it was the Quarryman. The books are mentioned often and have great significance in the parents’ lives and that of the Dunbar boys. They were also great storytellers passing down to the boys not only their love of books but the stories of their own lives. As much as you would think a story of five boys bringing themselves up would be rambunctious and unruly it is in fact tender, loving and intimate. That’s not to say the boys don’t bicker, fight and sometimes drink too much. The story jumps around in time however the authors phrasing at the start of each new chapter makes it easy to tell exactly where you are in time. This is a story of love, heartbreak, togetherness, family, despair, life, death, forgiveness and reconciliation. A family saga without all the unnecessary words. *I received a copy from the publisher to read.
The Dunbars are “a family of ramshackle tragedy”. Writing on the typewriter he digs up from his grandmother’s garden, oldest brother Matthew tells the story of his brothers Rory, Henry, Clay, and Tommy. Twenty-year-old Matthew is “the responsible one: The long-standing breadwinner”. Eighteen-year-old Rory is “the invincible one: The human ball and chain”. Seventeen-year-old Henry is “the moneymaker, the friendly one”. Sixteen-year-old Clay is “the quiet one, or the smiler”. And thirteen-year-old Tommy is the youngest, the pet collector”, whose pets – including a mule name Achilles - are named for the characters of Greek mythology who inhabit the tales their mother grew up with. But this is, essentially, Clay’s story: “We were all of us changed through him.” After an absence of eight years following their mother’s death, the boys’ father Michael comes back and asks his sons to help him build a bridge on his rural property. Clay is the only to take him up on his offer, and when he leaves to go with him, his brothers see it as a betrayal, and Matthew tells him not to come back. But Clay’s actions will eventually bring them all back together. Our narrator Matthew writes cryptically, dropping hints of what is to come and interweaving stories from the past and the present, so that we have to work hard to put the pieces together and come up with the story as a whole. This turns what is, in essence, a simple family story into a literary masterpiece. We learn about the boys’ mother Penelope, how she came to leave them, and the part Homer and the piano played in both her life and her death. We learn about their father, his mother Adelle who originally owned the typewriter, his first love Abbey, and how he came to be known as “the murderer”. We find out how Penelope and Michael meet and how, while being opposites, they were a perfect match for each other. Books played a major part in both their lives and the lives of their children. For Penelope, there were Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, from which Tommy named his pets. For Michael, there was The Quarryman, the biography of Michelangelo Buonarotti, which became Clay’s favorite and with which he wooed Carey. In addition to the books, certain objects keep making an appearance: Adelle’s typewriter, Penelope’s piano, Penelope and Michael’s marital bed, Clay’s peg, and Achilles the mule. And I love this recurring line: “… it was strange to think, but he’d marry that girl one day.” In his narrative, Matthew speaks directly to us, like he is recounting random memories. The book is beautifully formatted, with parts made to look like they were actually written with a typewriter. Each section contains one more element, building upon those in the previous sections and revealing a little bit more each time. The author interweaves four romances (three tragic and one happy) and writes in rich metaphors, the most obvious of which is the bridge bringing Michael back to his boys. Even though the language the author uses is simple, the construction and content are complex. He masterfully captures the Aussie vernacular and the Aussie spirit, and he has the ability to evoke images with a few sparse words. And, once again, as in "The Book Thief", Death makes an appearance as a character. Beautiful, poignant, memorable. Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, violence. Full blog post: https://www.booksdirectonline.com/2019/03/bridge-of-clay-by-markus-zusak.html
Well written? Totally. Super amazingly scatterbrained? Yes!!!!! Nonetheless, give it a try. Could be better for you. Also, cuss words a lot, probably for thirteen plus, unless your like i was, (i read to "kill a mockingbird" when i was 8). Peace out -#alexknowsbooks
This book is Markus Zusak's long-awaited follow-up to The Book Thief. I don't think it's going to reach those heights and it does take a long time to get going, but it is worth it. we follow the story of the five Dunbar brothers who live in a house in Sydney without adults.They have struggled since their mother died and father walked out. But they are keen to survive on their own. How did they get to this point though? The book also flashes back and forth to before they were born, and then when they were young and their parents were bringing them up. It's a very emotional read a you can imagine and Zusak's writing style makes you feel as if you are one of those boys or at least looking in on them..He does wander off tangent more than once but then this is the thought process of a boy struggling so it could be a good plot device. There's a lot of thinking, pondering and wondering to various degrees. So, not one for plot or location really, but an interesting read from a fine writer.
I bought this book for my grandson as he loved the Book Thief. Once he opened the gift, he started to read it immediately. He said it was one of his best gifts. I will eat it after he finishes.
The writing was exceptional, using simplistic and minimalist language to create a story that was beautifully complex. It left me with many lessons and is sure to be a book that will be remembered for a very long time.
In spite of a beautiful,deep,pasionate story and truly amazing writting,I gave it 4 stars because I often felt confused and annoyed. It definitively was worth reading!