two solid dudes

Bear (1976, 141 Pages)

Bear, published in 1976, is apparently “the most controversial novel ever written in Canada”. I think I first heard about this book in university and was probably rolling my eyes. I was like, ugh not another book where a lady fucks a bear! Just kidding, I don’t know about any other books where that happens (please send some my way if you do though). Anyway, I’ve known of this book for a while but never really been interested in reading it. Until NOW.

The synopsis: “A mousy librarian is called to a remote Canadian island to inventory the estate of a secretive Colonel whose most surprising secret is a bear who keeps the librarian company–shocking company.”

THOUGHTS:

Róisín: Straight up, this book is amazing. It illustrates a specific time in Canadian history and in Canadian fiction but still feels really contemporary today. It is a lot less lurid than I was expecting and also a lot shorter (girl, I love a novella). The sex scenes are stark and almost uneventful in the context of the novel. I like how little the bear is humanized in the story and it’s not supernatural or too allegorical, which I think is what I was expecting.

Don’t believe the synopsis that calls the main character “a mousy librarian” either. Lou is a fully realised character, who just can’t help how much she loves cataloguing everything. I’m sure the combo of the cover and the romance novel blurb on the paperback drew in a lot of readers but they really don’t reflect the novel or do it justice. This lady has sex with a bear but it’s not erotica.

Kathleen: After this conversation, there was basically no way I wasn’t going to enjoy this book:

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SO. DANG. GREAT. Like, there’s a lady having sex with a bear, which was obviously wonderful. But it’s also just some really beautiful solitude porn. Who doesn’t dream about disappearing to some island with a giant house with lots of windows, a big fireplace, and a library that takes up the entire top floor. Lou is great – she gets some job, travels up to this island, becomes pretty self-sufficient (growing her own food, finding mushrooms to eat on the island), and basically lives alone – other than the bear that she fucks sometimes. Who doesn’t want that?

Róisín: I love the phrase solitude porn, living the dream. I feel like, as amazing as the cover is it doesn’t do the book justice and is definitely why I stayed away for so long.

Kathleen: Honestly? Girl, if I had seen the sexy cover earlier, I would have read it sooner. All the alternate covers are soooo boring. Ugh. What is this, The Hatchet?

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I HATE ALL OF THESE.

Róisín: I’ve never read The Hatchet and based on these covers, I don’t care to.

VERDICT: Should Bear be on the 30 before 30?

RĂłisĂ­n: 100%. Put it on there twice.

Kathleen: Heck. Yes. Take off Lullabies for Little Criminals and give us more bear sex (OH NO SPOILERS)

THURSDAY’S BOOK: Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

Two Solid Dudes
kathleen.helen.jones@gmail.com
Two cool dudes wearing backwards caps and reading and reviewing Canadian Lit that we are secretly ashamed we haven't read yet. We're starting with CBC Reads' list of the top 30 Canadian books to read before you turn 30.

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