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Friday Fiction – Bear – NSFW

Bear1

Bear
Engel
1976

Submitter: This is a controversial tale of two star crossed lovers. Taking place in the cold landscapes of Canada, this bizarre love story goes where most books don’t. You will explore themes of love like never before. That is, if you can muster up the courage to open the cover. Even though many people consider themselves to be avid animal lovers, no one loves animals as much as the main character Lou. Some consider the book to be about a spiritual journey and how all living creatures are connected in this way. Others just see the cover and think one thing “Is that lady really getting it on with a bear?” But hey, maybe the controversy is enough to spark reader interest, which in turn, sells more books. Wise move Marian Engel. Nevertheless, I think that’s too much for a library book. (This book was found in my college library.)

Holly: I have a confession to make. Submitter included a sample page from within the book that isn’t included below. But I know you’re all dying to read it, so here’s a link to it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. To each their own and all that, but I think we can all agree the whole concept is bizarre.

By the way, this book won the Canadian “Governor General’s Literary Award” the year it was published (1976). Also by the way, the main character is a librarian. Of course. It was written as part of a fund raiser for the Canadian Writer’s Union – a project in which “serious writers” contributed pornographic fiction. It is, naturally, dedicated to Engel’s therapist. See the Wikipedia article for more great trivia tidbits about this book!

More Covers to Behold:

Venusia

WTF Cover Art: Timepivot

Venus on the Half-Shell

The article as written by Sunny Dawn, a contributor to http://www.freelancehouse.co.uk/.

32 Responses to Friday Fiction – Bear – NSFW

  • Oh dear. I haven’t yet plucked up the nerve to venture into this, but, jeepers, talk about a book that bears it all. Do you think the main character calls him Honey?

  • I’ll never look at Winnie the Pooh again without blushing. In shame.

  • Most people who consider themselves animals lovers aren’t actually *in* love with animals.

  • There was a guy that thought he could live among bears…you saw how well that worked out.
    This book is one great big EEWWWW!

  • I recently read this book (checked it out at my local public library in fact). It is a fantastic novel that deserved all the critical praise it received a the time and it’s themes are still relevant decades later. Of course the premise as presented in a blog post is hilarious, but in the actual context of the novel it actually works. I’m thankful my local library didn’t weed this jem.

    • It’s an old book that probably doesn’t circ that often, but it does seem to have historical/literary notoriety. I’d be inclined to compare it to “Lolita,” which a lot of people hate, but others regard as great literature. For a large enough library with the right audience, it would be appropriate, or possibly for some academic libraries. I don’t think it would do well in my small conservative town.

    • I haven’t read it, but it does sound like it has literary merit, and a potential audience (especially if Submitter’s library is Canadian). I’d keep it in my library if it circulated!

  • Your wiki link doesn’t appear to work.

  • The Governor General’s award is a pretty prestigious award (it is given out by the Queen’s representative in Canada, who acts as the head of state), not sure if that says something about this book or about the state of officially sanctioned literary awards in Canada during the 1970s.

  • I’m calling PETA.

  • This sounds so utterly batshit insane it loops right around to being kind of awesome.

  • All together now –

    “Still a better love story than Twilight.”

    “Still a better love story than 50 Shades.”

    “More believable than “Dr.” Andrew Wakefield’s “research” on vaccines.”

  • What…the hell.

  • Hey, our cover librarian is neither dressed in frumpy clothes nor bespectacled!

  • OH CANADA!

  • Oh wow. That is all.

  • How I wish I could unread that excerpt! Burned into my brain I’m afraid – uck!!

  • Can we see the reading group discussion questions the back cover promises?

  • What makes a book like this different from Lolita or Henry Miller’s novels? Shame on you, censoring philistines!

  • First thing that comes to mind with this is the anime airing this season called Kuma Miko (Girl Meets Bear) – though nothing like the linked sample page fortunately!

    http://myanimelist.net/anime/31804/Kuma_Miko

  • I am pretty sure this isn’t the bear in the old question about what they do in the woods. . . And just what did Byron do with his bear???

  • So this won the Governor General’s Award? 1976 must have been a slow year for Canadian literature.

  • Dear lord. I clicked the sample to read, and I’m regretting it. I can’t unread it. Ugh.

  • We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one…..

  • I know that this book sounds ridiculous, but it’s not as if it’s condoning actual sexual relationships with animals. It’s a fascinating piece of literature that’s held a significant place in eco-criticism, feminist criticism, environmental humanities, etc. I recommend reading Margaret Atwood’s discussion of it in her wonderful book “Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature.” Of course it’s not appropriate for children, but it most certainly shouldn’t be tossed out because it’s too scary and scandalizing. For heaven’s sake, think of all the books that involve sexual violence toward women in myriad dramatic and casual forms!

  • Yeah, um, I’ll be in my bunk. . .