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As Rafi Zabor's PEN-Faulkner Award-winning novel opens, the Bear shuffles and jigs with a chain through his nose, rolling in the gutter, letting his partner wrestle him to the ground for the crowd's enjoyment. But as soon becomes clear, this is no ordinary dancing bear. "I mean, dance is all right, even street dance. It's the poetry of the body, flesh aspiring to grace or inviting the spirit in to visit," he muses, but before all else, the Bear's heart belongs to jazz. This is, in fact, one alto-sax-playing, Shakespeare-allusion-dropping, mystically inclined Bear, and he's finally fed up with passing the hat. One night he sneaks out to a jazz club and joins a jam session. On the strength of the next day's write-up in the Village Voice, the Bear begins to play around town and hobnob with some of jazz's real-life greats. A live album, a police raid, a jailbreak, a cross-country tour, and no small amount of fame later, Bear finds himself in love with a human woman--and staring down the greatest improbability of all.
Admittedly, a novel about a talking, sax-blowing bear may not initially seem everyone's cup of tea, but Zabor's Bear is no cuddly anthropomorph: "I may be wearing a hat and a raincoat, thought the Bear, but no one's gonna mistake me for Paddington." He lives, he suffers, he loves--in fact, the love scenes come as something of a shock, and not just for the usual interspecies reasons. Who knew that the description of a bear's reproductive mechanisms could be so tender or so unabashedly erotic? Most of all, though, The Bear Comes Home evokes the world of improvisational jazz with consummate skill; Zabor, a longtime jazz journalist and drummer, writes about music with a passion and inspiration seldom found on the printed page. A wistful fable about an artist's coming of age, a brilliantly satiric send-up of the music business and jazz criticism, The Bear Comes Home is a debut much like that of the Bear himself: transcendent, unexpected, wise.
--Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A frustrated saxophonist crashes a New York City nightclub gig, beginning a reputation as a much-talked-about, mysterious figure in the jazz world. Along the way, he goes through the rigors of touring, garners a recording contract, does time in prison, and wins the love of a good woman. Pretty standard fare? Wait?factor in that our hero is a real live walking and talking bear. Nothing wrong with that, but unlike William Kotzwinkle's recent The Bear Went Over the Mountain (LJ 6/1/96), which plays the "bear about town" scenario for laughs, first novelist Zabor asks us to take the bear's odyssey fairly seriously, expecting us to accept the bear in these situations as easily as the book's characters do. This is a shame, because Zabor's scenes of musical life are vivid and knowledgeable, and his dialog is uniformly excellent; adding that talking bear seems gimmicky and at odds with the effective reality of the work. With all this strong material, one wonders why the main character is a bear. Perhaps to sell more books? For larger fiction collections.
-?Marc A. Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of the most amazing books I've ever read. I loved it and bought a copy for my Chosen Son to read, which is very unusual for me.Published 26 days ago by Marty Winkler (Consignment)
If you like Jazz, get this book. If you like reading about music theory, but in a way that makes want to learn more, not in way that gives you a headache, get this book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Sensei Oddsox
This really is a novel about a bear that takes up jazz saxophone and hits the road on tour with a bus full of quirky musicians. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Tracy Deaton
I read this book for an English course and enjoyed it very much. Being a full-time student, I was looking forward to reading this novel even though I dreaded reading other texts. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Sarah Thomson
Delightful, mind expanding, and deeply insightful into both the world of the accomplished jazz musician and that of the accomplished human, or bear, as the case may be...Published on May 15, 2013 by T. Britton
I remember reading monthly installments of "The Bear" in Musician, Player and Listener magazine back in what? 1980 or so? It was great and had some differences to this. Read morePublished on January 16, 2013 by Shaggles
It is hard to believe that this is Zabor's first novel. His writing is - well, maybe rhapsodic is the word. It seems appropriate because much of the novel is describing jazz. Read morePublished on November 29, 2012 by Joyce
Really a great commentary on the nature of the "other". Knowledge of jazz artists, philosophers and literary themes add to the fun, but aren't necessary to understand Zabor's... Read morePublished on August 14, 2010 by Jo R.