The Bear Comes Home – By Rafi Zabor

The Bear Come Home stars Bear, the main character. He is a bear. A real life, walking talking brown bear. He lives in NYC with his master Jones, who won Bear in a card game when he was just a pup. The Bear is intelligent, funny, well read and plays the alto saxophone. Jones and the Bear have scratched out a living performing on the street; you know. a trained, dancing bear. They did this for years as the Bear was growing up and as the book begins, he is damn sick of it and needs a change. Thus, one day, donning his best trench coat, trousers and hat, the Bear leaves his apartment and takes his sax to the Tin Palace where he will sneak on stage to play.

Its written very well, almost poetic in places, and it’s sure is a lot of fun to read about the actual bear walking into a club, talking with people, fellow musicians, etc. When he laughs his tongue flops out of his mouth. When he is angry, his neck hair bristles and his growl can turn anyone white. And when he needs to, she can strip off his clothes, hanker down on all fours and tear down the streets of NYC at nearly forty miles per hour. Its fun to read indeed!

On the one paw, the book is about the first talking bear after generations of super intelligent ancestors who learns to talk and falls in love with music, specifically jazz and the sax. On the other paw, it’s a love story between not only two opposite individuals, but two beings from completely different species. (And yes, the Bear does get laid. Hookers, woman with fetishes, his love interest Iris and of course, the rented she-bear every so often.)

Bear is a, well, a bear you can respect and admire, but not one you’d want to hang around with. His jokes too dry and his references much too topical. I did not like him too much, and after the novelty of the bear thing wears off, the story drags a bit setting up the love story. But then, the Bear goes out on the road touring the mid west with a band of talented eccentrics, and they let the music take over. I know very little about jazz, but this book certainly gets you so deep into the jazz scene you never wish to let go. When he wants to, the Bear can really play. And when he wants too, the Bear can really lose himself in the notes and chord and the melody belting forth from his soul and belted around lovingly and challengingly by the other members of the band.

And when the Bear is out there, playing his sax endlessly and unreservedly, you never want him to come home.


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