Bear by Marian Engel (1976) – BR00162 (2019) – 🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪
Plot or Premise
A historical librarian gets a chance to catalogue the books at a remote island home for a summer in Northern Ontario and encounters locals, free time to figure out her life, and a pet bear.
What I Liked
This book was given to me back in my teens, a gift of quality literature as it had just won the Governor General’s Award for fiction. I knew nothing about it as I started to read it. And I was relatively shocked to see “high literature” include bestiality and graphic descriptions of oral sex performed by the bear on the main character. The historical parts were awesome, as was the descriptions of the island and the passage of the summer.
What I Didn’t Like
I found the romanticization of the relationship with the bear a bit odd, as was the depersonalization of her other sexual partners during the summer. I also felt there were gaps in the ending — we saw what she intended to do, not what she actually did once she was back in Toronto.
The Bottom Line
Bestiality is a strange theme for an award-winner.