Happy Canada Day- Bear by Marian Engel

First of all,

HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!

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That GIF will make more sense when I get to the book I’m reviewing!! Ha ha!!

Well, I have to explain the story behind this review. I had Vanessa over at Food in Books suggest that we start a “Sexy Sunday” collaborative post in which we review books with noteworthy sex scenes (STAY TUNED. THIS WILL BE THE 1ST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH AND WILL BE STARTING IN AUGUST…. DON’T WORRY, I’VE ALREADY BEEN VETO’D FROM PICKING A BOOK! HA HA!). It being Canada Day on the First Sunday of July, I thought it would be great to feature a Canadian Author so, the search commenced!

I was searching and searching and I came across an article titled “11 Books that Prove Canadian Literature is Insane-and Insanely Amazing” Ummm… yes, please?? So, scrolling through those I found “Bear”, I’m going to post the synopsis now and, for those of you who know me you will know why I had to read it. I’m going to post the synopsis from the article I read on The Bustle as Goodreads just didn’t do it justice.

Synopsis

An erotic affair between a librarian and a bear. That’s right — a young woman gets it on with an actual four-legged, furred and clawed bear. And this isn’t one of those suggestively erotic novels: Bear features descriptive, disturbing, no-holds-barred (heh) bestiality sex scenes.

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So, for those of you who know me, I basically said “That is the most F@#*ed up thing I’ve ever heard!! …..CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!”

Now to unveil the cover of the book… I know this whole post is not my normal format, but, LIVE A LITTLE!!

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All I can say is… What did I just read?? I am definitely going to need to process this one, so it’s going to be a “chat now, rate later” sort of review… If I rate it at all. This book won the Governor General’s Literature Award, which is a pretty high honour for us… I don’t get it. I will say right now, the article had it wrong. Although, it is somewhat explicit, it’s not as bad as they depict it (thankfully!!) It’s not “no holds barred sex scenes” there are some uncomfortable scenes (very uncomfortable!), but it’s not as bad as all that.

*WARNING* This review will not be for everyone. Canadian lituature can be pretty messed up (Oh, Canada! 🇨🇦🍁) There will be some crass language and sexual quotes in this one. (Don’t blame me, blame Marian Engel)

Judging from the Afterword that I read, maybe I just didn’t understand this book??

First I will start with two quotes that I actually really liked!!

“The trouble with you Ontario girls is you never acquire any kind of sophistication.”

Well, this one just made me laugh as, I just so happen to be a girl from Ontario!! 😂😂 STAY UNSOPHISTICATED ONTARIO! 💖💖

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“Because what she disliked in men was not their eroticism, but their assumption that women had none. Which left women with nothing to be but housemaids.”

Although, women are standing up and showing that they are also sexual beings, this is still a problem in society. We’re not looked at as erotic beings a lot of the time, and if we are “erotic” is synonymous with “slut”. Otherwise, we’re looked at as potential mothers and housemaids.

Now, on to the weird!!

This book was definitely a challenge. Lou goes off to the Island Estate of a Colonel Cary to go through his library and see if she can fins any records of the history of this mysterious property. She is a woman who is definitely very lonely, and this loneliness is compounded when put out in the middle of nowhere to complete this job.

“Oh, she was lonely, inconsolably lonely; it was years since she had had human contact. She had always been bad at finding it. It was as if men knew that her soul was gangrenous. Ideas were all very well, and she could hide in her work, forgetting for a while the real meaning of the Institute, where the Director fucked her weekly on her desk while both of them pretended they were shocking the Government and she knew in her heart that what he wanted was not her waning flesh but elegant eighteenth-century keyholes, of which there is a shortage in Ontario.”

It’s clear that she has some definitely issues with intimacy and relationships.

“Cucumbers, she had found on investigating the possibilities suggested in Lysistrata, were cold. Women left her hungry for men. The Director shared her interests, was charming and efficient; they had much in common when they fucked on Molesworths’ maps and handwritten genealogies: but no love.”

There is a Bear that lives on the Estate in the woodshed who has always been there, and as she and the Bear get to know each other better, a bond forms… But, is this bond real? Or is it structured out of Lou’s isolation and loneliness.

“For she had discovered she could paint any face on him that she wanted, while his actual range of expression was a mystery. “

She proceeds throughout the book to personify the Bear, seeing him all the time in different fashions. I’m going to use some quotes from The Afterword Witten by Aritha Van Herk, as apparently she understands the book way better than I do!… Maybe??

“One cannot love satisfactorily without first loving oneself. And the bear, for all its physical bearishness, is a mirror to the woman, Lou, just as she, in her animal humanness, is a mirror to the bear.”

“Our discomfort with Bear is an index of the extent to which we have incorporated, listened to, and loved the animal within. If we can learn to live with that animal, that shaggy and suggestive beast, we can come clean; we will not permit a civilized bestiality to exploit us. The acceptance of its presence suggests a wholeness and happiness that our contemporary denial of the erotic and animal self has buried.”

So… What you are saying, Aritha, is that because I am uncomfortable with,

“Her fishy friend came up the stairs. His tongue bent vertically and he put it up her cunt. A note fell out of the book: The offspring of a woman and a bear is a hero, with the strength of a bear and the cleverness of a man. – Old Finnish legend. She cried with joy.”

I’m not one with myself and will never truly be loved?? .. Well, love is overrated anyways! 😉

I can’t even say the story was well written as there were passages that I highlighted and my Note was just “???”

“Byron’s bear danced,” she whispered, “but he paid no attention. If he had known you, would the Beau have finished his days among nuns, playing with his turdies?”

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All in all… This book was WEIRD. And, I’ll say it before any of you do. I’M saying it’s weird, so that’s REALLY saying something!!

I still, honestly, don’t know how to rate this so I’ll let it be for now.

Has anyone else read this book? Does anyone plan to?? SOMEONE HELP ME UNDERSTAND!! 

Bear is Best Served with 

a Grizzly Bear Cocktail

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Ingredients

  • 1oz Jagermeister
  • 1oz Kahlua (or coffee liqueur)
  • 1oz Amaretto
  • 2 1/2oz Milk

Directions

  1. Stir all ingredients together (except milk) in a glass with ice
  2. Top with milk
  3. CHEERS!!

 

80 thoughts on “Happy Canada Day- Bear by Marian Engel

Add yours

      1. Hahaha that is so true…. We are having an off day if the conversation makes sense and an ON day when we have words which make sense but actually is non – sense

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Lol…well this certainly was different if that is the correct word I’m using here. Weird is also a good word to use I guess 😂😂 Don’t quite know what to make of this either…but to answer if I am planning on reading this one erm…..nope.
    Still enjoyed your post for it though…although enjoyed might not be a good word either. Thanks for al this…erm weirdness 😂😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha ha!! I’m glad someone appreciates the pains I go through for this blog! 😂😂😂🐻 I was pretty excited to post this review. What a SUPER WEIRD BOOK!! The fact that it won the Governor General’s Literature Award, and has an average of around 4.5 out of thousands of reviews on Goodreads made me HAVE to read it! Because…WHY?? Only in Canada. 🇨🇦🐻😂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, the things we do for God and country. I hope Canada realizes the sacrifice you made today, scalding your eyeballs and brain forever from this book. Your review had me giggling so hard I choked on my morning coffee. Well done! As far as the book itself goes, well, it certainly makes me think of Grizzly Adams in a whole new, and sick, light. Great review and drink, too…….no doubt you needed it after that read. Seriously? Bear fucking? Christ almighty. I’m just glad you read it so I didn’t have to. I’ll be in touch about our August collaboration. I have a few in mind, though I doubt any could top this one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha!! I should get an Award!! … Maybe the Governor General’s Literature Award, since they just give those out to anyone! 😂😂🏅 I definitely needed a drink after this one!
      I told a friend about this book and he said “wow. Tell me you didn’t think of Care Bears in a whole new light after that one”…. Well, NOW that you brought it up I do!! 😂😂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You know what, I totally might, when she asks for recommendations at the end of the term. Too bad I’ll no longer be in the class, but I’d love to hear about how that goes. XD

        Liked by 1 person

      1. haha, Nicole, you find the most outrageous things to read!
        And i could have definitely done without knowing that! i’m permanently scarred. how can i look at a bear and not think about this book?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I’ve actually heard of this one! Completely forgot it existed. Is it weird that I sort of want to incorporate this into my Canadian reading list now?

    I can’t tell from just the quote, but are ‘elegant eighteenth-century keyholes’ something from the story or an oddly out-of-place euphemism?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my goodness, how ever will you top this review??? 😂 😂 😂 I don’t even know what to say other than I was entertained, your drink choice was clearly a perfect match, and thanks for taking one for the team in reading this! Yikes! 😂 ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Omg what did I just read, Nicole?! I am laughing so hard at everything about this! 😂😂 And the whole “human animal” mirroring the actual animal of the bear seems like a book my 11th Grade AP English teacher would have loved…And I have no idea what it says about us that this book won the Governor General award. 😂 Kudos to you for trying this!

    I’m off to be dragged to see the fireworks downtown in a couple of hours–loud firecracker sounds have freaked me out ever since I was a kid so I’ll be armed with earplugs! HAPPY CANADA DAY! 🇨🇦 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! As I answer this comment I’m listening to all the fireworks!! I’m watching “Long time Running”, the documentary on God Downy’s last show. 💖💖🇨🇦🍁
      The book was definitely VERY WEIRD! I hope someone else reads it at some point so I can discuss it with them. There were definitely a lot of underlying themes of loneliness and finding yourself.. But… Why tell it this way?? 🤔🤤🐻

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely one for the books!! 😅🐻 I will never get it out of my brain… Maybe that’s why it’s done so well?? I got the themes of her loneliness and learning she needs to find herself… But, did she really need the bear??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Psh, it’s only 150 pages!! You just have to remember not to drink so much as to get too blottoed to know what you’re reading…. or that you don’t get too blottoed so you think your hubby is a bear!! HA HA HA!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been considering reading a graphic novel called My Boyfriend is a Bear I might have to try that before I jump into this one though. I’m just not sure I could get through this one! Loved your review though 🙂
    Happy (late) Canada Day!

    Liked by 1 person

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