**DISCLAIMER: I WROTE MOST OF THIS BEFORE STARTING AND/OR FINISHING THE BOOK**
The Governor’s General Literary Award is a national book award given to an author every year by the Governor’s General, obviously. It’s been around since 1937 and is well respected in Canada, for whatever that’s worth. Margaret Atwood has won it a bunch of times, and HBO is turning her books into a show! Which we all know is the true epitome of literary success. It’s kind of a big deal. In 1976, 39 years after Lord Tweedsmuir (actual human name) conceived of the award, it was given to the well celebrated Canadian author named Marian Engel for a book she wrote called Bear. It’s about a woman who fucks a bear.
My dear frienemy, Schmathan Schmeedner, introduced me to this book via social media because I am both Canadian and a complete weirdo. I ordered it immediately. The book had been purchased, delivered, and read all within 5 days of his social media post. I had no idea what to expect. Well, that’s not entirely true. I expected explicitly described sex between a woman and a bear. I was let down quicker than the bear’s head between the chick’s legs. The first 78 out of 122 pages are basically just the chick eye banging the bear while he poops. She LOVES watching him poop, but she calls it “moving his bowels” because if she called it pooping someone might mistake her for some sort of degenerate bear rapist. The only vaguely sexual thing before page 78 is when she takes a dump next to the bear. The first half of the book is nothing but figurative clit rubbing and literal bear shit. Scholars call it the “rising action”. Women call it “foreplay”. I call it boring. If you’re a dude, skip it. If you’re a chick, MAKE ME A FUCKING SANDWICH!
It starts getting juicy on the bottom of the 78th page when she starts air guitaring her axe wound next to the bear after reading an unusually titillating Victorian era biography. The self love gushes over on to the next page (79 if you’re counting) until the bear joins in with a “tongue that was muscular but also capable of lengthening itself like an eel” and finds all her “secret places”. SPOILER ALERT: He finds them to completion and then “licks away her tears”. It is unclear if the author is talking about eyeball tears or vaginal tears, but it is abundantly clear that she did way too much research for this book. Also, for the record, 79 pages is exactly 10 pages too long to wait for ursine cunnilingus. You missed a huge opportunity, Marian, a huge opportunity.
The book is also littered with bear facts, which the narrator uses to her advantage when lulling the bear into a false sense of security until she can finally take advantage of him sexually. It’s pretty boring. So, without any further ado, here is a quick guide of all the sexual misconduct in the book and a quick blurb on how each made me feel. Each encounter can be summed up by the line on page 86 when the narrator talked about the basement thusly: “the nether region was indeed dark and spidery”.
(Much like what I did with my middle school friends after I watched Pamela Anderson in Naked Souls, I’ll tell you exactly when all the naughty parts are)
1. (p. 78-79) The narrator starts masturbating while thinking about the shameful, emotionless sex she regularly has with her boss. The bear moseys on over and starts licking her everywhere. She jizzes, then cries. He licks her tears away. She mistakes this encounter for romance. She’s obviously nothing more than a fleshy salt lick to the bear, and I think even less of her than that.
2. (p. 84) This time the bear comes to her looking to munch on some box. She calls him her “fishy friend”. I find this nickname to be absurdly ironic.
3. (p. 95) “Bear, I love you. Pull my head off.” This is some Ireenie (the hoochie ma chicken head from the classic film Pootie Tang) level crazy type shit. While the bear goes down on her she cradles his “asymmetrical balls”. I admire her selflessness. The bear does not and remains unaroused.
4. (p. 98-99) The sex is getting rougher and the bear is growing more reluctant. She mentions half ripped skin and she resorts to covering herself in honey to entice him. The bear ate all the honey and then left, farting the entire time (Marian’s words not mine). This is starting to resemble every relationship I’ve ever had. All 2 of them.
5. (p. 102) “She felt sometimes that he was God. He served her. As long as she made stool beside him in the morning, he was ready whenever she spread her legs to him.” SHE WORSHIPED HIM AS A GOD AND TRADED POOP FOR PUSSY LICKINGS! At the bottom of the page they french kiss. The kiss is overshadowed by the fecal based worship, and it’s hardly worth mentioning.
6. (p. 105) They go for a swim and the bear licks her dry. She does not count this as sex, yet. She plays with his wiener a bit but the bear, yet again, does not get aroused. Perhaps there’s some human in him after all. I can’t be the only person to measure humanity by a creature’s ability to recognize the uselessness of a hand job.
7. (p. 109) The narrator bangs the very male and very human caretaker/grocer/mechanic. At this point I am repulsed by anything but human on bear intercourse, so is the narrator. Plus, the dude is married. This narrator chick is kind of a piece of shit.
8. (p. 113) Finally, we’ve made it to the break up sex. The narrator comes to her senses and realizes she can’t keep having an intimate relationship with a bear. Just kidding. The bear finally pops a boner so she presents herself to it on all fours. The bear responds by by removing a large chunk of flesh from her back. She decides to move back home and see other people.
Some people might argue that 8 instances of bestiality is enough in the span of roughly 40 pages, but those people are prude morons.
In conclusion, the book is probably trying to be some sort of meaningful feminist metaphor about a woman’s sexual liberation in a male dominated world or a commentary on how all men are filthy, shit covered animals. I suspect it’s nothing more than a harlequin romance novel about a librarian who fucks a bear, written by a hopelessly lonely Canadian woman who probably walked in on her burly, hirsute lumberjack of a husband in their marital bed with a twink. It reads like a defendant’s seemingly unending final statement before sentencing in the most insane case of bestiality ever recorded in the history of North America.
Overall, I’d have to admit it was a pretty interesting read. I’d call it a page turner if the ones in my copy weren’t all stuck together.