Geddes’s fans will relish this book, Falsework, as it displays his grand, varied talents in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writing. This book is enriched with archival photographs of the nearly constructed Second Narrows Bridge in 1958. That year, on July 17, Geddes was an 18-year-old waterfront worker, very involved in this bridge collapse/catastrophe. He knew those types of workers and tried to confirm that his father, a former navy diver, was searching for bodies.
From Geddes’s first-hand observations, more recent interviews, and research into previous texts and documents, he provides a fascinating readers’ journey into the preventable deaths of 18 bridge workers. Now called The Iron Workers Memorial Bridge over Burrard Inlet, it links North Vancouver with Vancouver as part of Highway 1 across Canada.
Geddes’s fine skills with language let readers relive the lives of the victims, survivors, and their families. A daughter and a bridge worker, who made every memorial, were quoted along with many others.
“My father died because of others’ mistakes, full stop. I’m not bitter about that. It hurts me more that life is cheap.… Amidst the atrocities, natural disasters, failures of nerve, a tiny shoot pushes up through layers of rubble, a hand reaches out to comfort the sick and dying.… You came here fully armed with tape recorder and preconceptions. Don’t try to make it other than it was.… It’s all falsework, temporary support, what you do as a writer, what I do as a lawyer.”
“I worked raising the crane on the barge, / helped English and Atkinson unstring those / twisted beams, lethal as crossbows. Like a / family affair.”
This book is a necessary part of Canada’s history, which is best told through the personalities involved. There is another layer to Falsework in which Geddes honestly examines his own values and reactions. His openness allows readers to accept his “true” story text as they trust his personal reflections. This multi-genre book has much to teach all readers about being human.