The Iron Bridge
Steerforth Press (US - 2013), Goose Lane Editions (Canada - 2012)
Is it possible to reconcile the mind of a youth with the actions of a monster?
In this set of dazzlingly bold stories, Dora Award-winning playwright Anton Piatigorsky casts his imaginative gaze across the formative years of the world’s most infamous dictators. Pushing at the boundaries of the unexpected, he offers speculative glimpses into the events and circumstances that transformed adolescent boys into some of history’s most horrifying figures.
Here we encounter a teenaged Mao Tse-Tung refusing an arranged marriage; Idi Amin cooking for the British Army; Stalin living in a seminary; a melodramatic Adolf Hitler dreaming of vast architectural achievements.
In The Iron Bridge, Piatigorsky ingeniously fills the gaps in the historical record and mines rich fictions from minor incidents. Dramatizing personal milestones and seemingly insignificant moments, he reveals how the wilfulness and narcissism of these young men may have nurtured the grotesque individuals they would eventually become.
Quill and Quire Review
National Post Review
Winnipeg Free Press Review
Maple Tree Literary Supplement Review
Politics and Prose (July 9, 2013)
Los Angeles Review of Books
Voice of America
“To fictionalize and dramatize scenes from the early lives of history’s most infamous tyrants and practitioners of genocide is a unique and boldly challenging premise, and Piatigorsky succeeds against all odds. These complex and fascinating portraits illuminate while offering no excuses, no justification for crimes later committed. That these monsters-to-be are given such convincing humanity is a testament to Piatigorsky’s delicate craft, his patience and subtle creativity with the historical material at hand, and insight into the darkest possibilities of the human mind.”
—Bill Gaston, Alexander MacLeod, and Carol Malyon, Danuta Gleed Award Jury
“An astounding collection of intricate and rigorous character studies. The Iron Bridge bravely takes us deep into the nuanced, damaged psyches of men we would prefer to think of as monsters. Thrilling, brazen, brilliant and deeply felt. The most compelling stories I’ve read in years.”
—Sarah Polley, writer and director of Away from Her
Anton Piatigorsky has found a rich gothic seam in 20th-century dictatorship, and, in six subtle and learned tales, sets the genre upon the weird adolescences of Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Rafael Trujillo and Hitler…. The Iron Bridge is such a rich text, based on such weighty sources (definitive biographies and “speculative psychohistories” appear in the acknowledgements), that each story demands essays and dissertations in response…. Piatigorsky solves historical fiction’s dilemmas with enviable skill and originality.
—Roland Elliott Brown, National Post
"The dictators, whose youth is the subject of this remarkable collection of short stories, were responsible for millions of deaths. But 'the child is father of the man,' and we know precious little psychobiographically about the forces that shaped and impelled them on their murderous course. I am bedazzled by the creative imagination of the author whose compelling portraits convincingly and vividly fill in the relative void in the backgrounds of these authors of dark chapters in 20th century history."
—Jerrold Post, Director of the Political Psychology program, the George Washington University, author of Leaders and their Followers in a Dangerous World
"With an invigorating mix of classic storytelling and inventiveness, Anton Piatigorsky's pitch-perfect, acutely attuned stories delve deep, and far, and wide. The Iron Bridge is an assured, unique collection, and a seamless transition to fiction from one of our best playwrights."
—Pasha Malla, author of People Park
A "clever and convincing collection....The stories, which all seem plausible, provide us with some real insight into the protagonists' manipulative minds, thus providing perspective into their adult actions as murderous psychopaths."
—Martin Zellig, Winnipeg Free Press
"That these monsters-to-be are given such convincing humanity is a testament to Piatigorsky’s delicate craft, his patience and subtle creativity with the historical material at hand, and insight into the darkest possibilities of the human mind."