THE BEAR COMES HOME.

Zabor, Rafi.

ISBN 10: 0393040372 / ISBN 13: 9780393040371
Published by New York: Norton, (1997.) dj
Used Hardcover
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About this Item

Hardcover first edition - First printing. Amazing first novel by this jazz musician and journalist - the hero is "an alto saxophone virtuoso trying to evolve a personal style out of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman. He also happens to be a walking, talking, Shakespeare- and Blake-quoting bear whose keen sense of irony protects him from the double loneliness of the artist and animal in an underappreciative metropolis." Surprise winner of the 1998 PEN/Faulkner Prize for fiction. A lyrical, funny, and also realistic portrait of a jazz musician. Small first printing (reportedly of only 5000 copies.) 480 pp. Near fine in near fine dust jacket (corners slightly bumped, bit of sunning to spine of dj.). Bookseller Inventory # 40996

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE BEAR COMES HOME.

Publisher: New York: Norton, (1997.) dj

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

The hero of Rafi Zabor's first novel is an alto saxophone virtuoso trying to evolve a personal style out of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman. He also happens to be a walking, talking, Shakespeare-and Blake-quoting bear whose keen sense of irony protects him from the double loneliness of the artist and animal in an underappreciative metropolis.The scion of a long line of European circus bears (and the product of an amazing roll of the genetic dice), the Bear, when we first meet him, is eking out a living doing a routinely humiliating street dancing art with his friend and keeper, Jones. But what the Bear is really best at -- besides making himself cosmically miserable -- is playing the alto with his world-calls set of chops. One day he makes a bold foray from their apartment to jam with Arthur Blythe and Lester Bowie -- real-life musicians rub elbows with fictional counterparts throughout the novel -- at a New York club, thus beginning a musical and romantic odyssey. A nightclub bust followed by long dark nights of the soul in New York City's dankest jail. Freedom, a recording contract, underground fame, a road tour that is alternately hilarious, scary, ridiculous, and inspiring. A vexed, physically passionate, and anatomically correct interspecies love affair with a beautiful woman named Iris. And, finally, a triumphant return to a jazz club inside the Brooklyn Bridge, where the Bear plays a solo where it all comes together for him, and blows him all the way back home.

Review:

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

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