Three and/or Sixty-One Literary Bears
September 18, 2021 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Patricia Lockwood (LRB, 08/12/2021), "Pull Off My Head": "Is Bear one of those 1970s books about growing out your armpit hair? Kind of, but not only. Is it a metaphor for our relationship to nature? Fuck off." Marlena Williams (LitHub, 10/23/2020), "Sylvia Plath... Nature Writer?": "'The Fifty-Ninth Bear' taught me about the darker, sulfuric thing bubbling under the surface of love, and I became a person suspicious of heterosexual romance, uninterested in marriage." Naomi Ishiguro (Granta, 02/03/2020), "Bear": "For a moment I was almost proud of her, even if it did mean we had to bring back this vast sixty-five-pound bear, to share our home with us."
posted by Wobbuffet (11 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

The Bear Comes Home is another literary bear.
posted by box at 1:22 PM on September 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is the literary wtfery revival 2021 needs right now.
posted by Hypatia at 4:09 PM on September 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

It's Jeff Vandermeer's beariverse. We're just living in it:
posted by Balna Watya at 4:28 PM on September 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have a ridiculously large teddy bear I keep in the spare bedroom. His name is Tony.
posted by hippybear at 6:05 PM on September 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Really enjoyed the Marlena Williams piece!

But can a bear “gore” you? I thought only a bull can do that.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 6:50 PM on September 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I mean, I guess bears have pointy claws and teeth. Very pointy.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:00 PM on September 18, 2021

In this case, the comment (or letter, in LRB terms) seems to be worth reading.
posted by mollweide at 8:30 PM on September 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Another stunner from Patricia Lockwood, who is firmly among my favorite writers of her (my) generation.

I defy Stephen Marche (from the previous thread on Sally Rooney) to read her, and tell me she doesn't have a "Voice."
posted by seinwave at 5:48 AM on September 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Oh god this book. It's a whole universe of a discussion about lit. For a decent contemporary take from it's homeland (where it's a big deal) see this recent piece or this hour long podcast/show from CBC Ideas.

I mean, Lockwood is right about the cover, it's something, but it's not the original cover.

I'll note that this bear book won the highest literary award in Canada.
posted by zenon at 6:51 AM on September 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

I moved to Kingston, Ontario, several years ago, and a while back dimly remembered a children's book called My Name Is Not Odessa Yarker, about a kid whose sibling gives her that nickname after they drive past a highway sign pointing out the distances to the towns of Odessa and Yarker (both are just outside Kingston; this sign, if it existed once, does not any more).

I was surprised and delighted to find out that it was written by Marian Engel, author of Bear, which I dimly remembered as a book I was Not Supposed To Read when I was a kid.

Just mentioning as an odd outlier in the interesting career of Canada's #1 author of softcore bear/human porn -- she was kind of like Canada's inverse Judy Blume, like if Blume was remembered mostly for Wifey and Superfudge was the odd book out.
posted by Shepherd at 10:07 AM on September 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Wow; I haven't thought of this book since 1976. Back then, my mother and I went to the bookmobile on Friday nights when everybody else was at the High School's football game. Nobody payed attention to what I read, and I liked animal stories, so I read this. I got the message that men were more brutish than bears, and that the whole plot was pretty unlikely. But I also understood that no woman before this author had ever had these thoughts, and hadn't been allowed to have these thoughts until this particular decade and that I too could have thoughts that women before couldn't have.
posted by acrasis at 10:50 AM on September 19, 2021 [10 favorites]

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