The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor

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There are too many elliptical, navel-gazing meditations on mysticism, love, the imperfections of art--and on why the music business is so sleazy- -but, thankfully, there are also moments of satiric genius...
-Kirkus

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.
 

About Rafi Zabor

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Rafi Zabor was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He has worked and recorded as a jazz drummer and written about music for Musician, Playboy, and the Village Voice, and about dervishes in Istanbul for Harper's. His novel, The Bear Comes Home, won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998 and was voted one of the Los Angeles Times's Best Books of the Year. He still lives in Brooklyn, where he is finishing the second volume of I, Wabenzi.
 
Published July 1, 1997 by W. W. Norton & Company. 480 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Kirkus

Above average
on May 20 2010

There are too many elliptical, navel-gazing meditations on mysticism, love, the imperfections of art--and on why the music business is so sleazy- -but, thankfully, there are also moments of satiric genius...

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