One of the challenges of owning a vast book collection is always what to read next after a major binge. Having spent most of the summer with my nose in Darkover novels, I fully intended to move back to something else in this genre. Then I was tucking the last two Darkover novels back into their place on the shelves and had to rearrange the B section a tiny bit, stumbling over my two Richard Bach books in the process.
The Bridge Across Forever is billed as a love story on the cover and details the author’s adventures to discover his soul mate, the ultimate person that he was meant to spend his life with. While tenderly and poignantly written at times, this book also contains a lot of selfishness and narcissistic navel-gazing. The problem with Great Truths in life is that they are so often delivered through us fallible human beings. Great paintings, music, plays and words all have the power to touch us to the core… if only we can get past the flawed medium trying to put such glory into words. This is not to say that Bach portrays himself as perfect and blameless. He is very good at detailing the flaws in his life and problems that keep he and Leslie Parish apart for so long. The story of their trials and tribulations is both frustrating and inspiring at the same time.
One is a sort of sequel to The Bridge Across Forever and is perhaps the more powerful of the two booked. I was hooked and intrigued from the moment I read the words on the back cover. “I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?” The book deals with the intriguing idea that we are all part of a much larger whole and that ultimately, despite our restrictive individual perceptions, which trap us as our “reality”, we are ONE. The novel contains the unique blend of inspirational writing and storytelling that first made Bach famous in Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
While both books stand as a testament to what Richard experienced during his marriage with actress Leslie Parish, the fact remains that the story beyond these books did not have a happy ending. Richard and Leslie divorced after 20 years in 1997 and he married his third wife, Sabryna Nelson-Alexopoulos two years later. On August 31st of this year, the author was involved in a landing accident with his plane on San Juan Island in Washington. He suffered serious head and shoulder injuries but has begun to recover slowly.
These two books, along with Jonathan Livingston Seagull, remain the only works by Richard Bach that I have read. I enjoyed rereading them, but was reminded again of how a writer’s personality, especially in semi-autobiographical stories, can sometimes get in the way of a great message. I wish him well in his recovery and hope that his stories have not come to an end.
The Bridge Across Forever Paperback format, 396 pages, published in 1984 by DELL Publishing
One Paperback format, 378 pages (but strangely LARGE type), published in 1988 by DELL Publishing