CHARACTERS ↠ Bear v Shark: The Novel

REVIEW Bear v. Shark: The Novel

CHARACTERS ↠ Bear v. Shark: The Novel ☆ So it's kind of like a parlor game then The uestion is apparently of Ancient Eastern extractionIt seems to be a gut thing The answer just feels right and then you come up with reasonsGiven a relatively level playing field ie water deep enough so that a Shark could maneuver proficiently but shallow enoTo Live young Curtis Norman wins a national writing contest and four tickets to the event The Normans load up their SUV and embark on a road trip to VegasAs they head cross country the family is besieged by a dizzying barrage of voices television and radio personalities public service announcements bear and shark pundits Freudians theologians and self published authors in addition to the Bear v Shark fanatics cultists and resisters they meet at roadside gas stations and restaurants Overwhelmed by factoids statistics and ten second debates the Normans along with the rest of country can't seem to get their facts straight much less figure out a way to actually communicate with one another Sound bites and verbal tics predominate; misheard misunderstood andjust plain mistaken information is absorbed mangled and regurgitated to hilarious e. Our culture of spectacle is awful terrible no good very bad – how’s that for a newsflashChris Bachelder’s Bear v Shark is one of those books that does what one of my teachers used to admonish his students to do it articulates the obvious In many cases that is a good thing not a bad one and this book is one of those cases The subject of Bear v Shark is the devolution of American culture and Bachelder does a decent job of articulating the horror that is our descent into trivialized celebration of the meaningless with his overriding meme – a sensationalized “battle of the ages” between a bear type never denoted and a shark type never denoted Part of the charm of wading through Bachelder’s book is his constant evasion of answering this uestion What kind of bear is going to fight what kind of shark – and why should I care That he gets us to wonder about this instead of immediately responding “What a load of crap this is” says good things about his talent as a writer But it doesn’t help this book published in 2001 from feeling datedPart of that dated feeling comes from reading a book that is so obviously a contrived homage to one who is surely in Bachelder’s pantheon of favorite writers Kurt Vonnegut Jr Stylistically Bear v Shark owes much – perhaps too much – to the Vonnegut of the Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions period So reading the novel feels like stepping into a time capsule and being whisked back to some moment between 1969 1973 Vonnegut once described his writing style I paraphrase as writing a joke until he got it right then writing another joke and another and another until he had a book Anyone who’s read Vonnegut knows that that’s not uite the truth – but it’s reasonably close The same is true of Bachelder; he writes joke after joke with like his stylistic master Vonnegut those few passages of dramatic action that convey a signal message of the book It’s a wonderful engaging style and Bachelder does it well here – but it’s too Vonnegut I kept waiting for Kilgore Trout to pop up The setting sometime in a near future America of nonstop infotainment is also awfully Vonnegutian Is that a word Well it is nowCertainly given the recent publication date Bachelder does a nice job of bringing to the table a number of issues afflicting our current culture the debasingdevaluing of our most important duty as citizens by making trivial decisions matters of voting; the mindlessness of consumer culture and its seduction of everyone from children to the elderly; our wasteful use of environmental resources the family in the novel the Normans – you’d be right in assuming that the name is a play on normal – drive an SUV; and most importantly our obsession with being constantly amused Bachelder uotes Postman numerous times in the text and Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death is a key source for the novel’s ideas about American cultural dissolution These issues are illuminated sometimes with clever subtlety sometimes a tad too stridently One has to ask if even the most distracted father and Mr Norman is above all distracted would ignore his son’s serious head contusion to avoid missing the spectacle of a computer generated bear fighting a computer generated sharkAnd maybe that’s where the novel goes a little off the rails for me The premise is intriguing and the cultural criticisms though sometimes to

Chris Bachelder ã 1 CHARACTERS

Ffect; and the most inane subjects from the disappearance of Dutch culture to the Shakespearean bias toward the bear are vigorously and obsessively debated These meaningless exchanges of misinformation leave Mr Norman disenchanted world weary and ambivalent about the impending show but the family eventually makes it to Vegas for an apocalyptic and surprisingly emotional endingWritten in uick commercial like segments that mirror the media it satirizes Chris Bachelder's debut is a fiercely funny razor sharp novel about the odd intersection of zealotry and trivia about the barriers to human connection in a society that values entertainment above all else Through a clever act of novelistic subterfuge Bachelder makes us laugh at our penchant for absurd and useless information while drawing us into a dazzling spectacle of his own imaginatio. I ordered this on a whim and after a couple pages I thought it was going to turn out like most of my whim books like crap A few pages in it occurred to me that this was the kind of pop culture satiric overload that I'd like to avoid But very soon I was laughing like crazy I was laughing until I cried I really can't remember the last thing I read or heard or saw that was this funny First thing I did when I finished the book was go back and read some of my favorite chapters like um 29 and 62 Thank goodness for the index I am now pushing this book on everyone with a sense of humor Some very ridiculous uestions are asked like does a shark have a neck Do the Dutch have a culture What's a Guardian knot And most important given a relatively level playing field who would win in a fight between a bear and a shark

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Bear v Shark The NovelSo it's kind of like a parlor game then The uestion is apparently of Ancient Eastern extractionIt seems to be a gut thing The answer just feels right and then you come up with reasonsGiven a relatively level playing field ie water deep enough so that a Shark could maneuver proficiently but shallow enough so that a Bear could stand and operate with its characteristic dexterity who would win in a fight between a Bear and a Shark In this brilliant satire of our media saturated culture the sovereign nation of Las Vegas the entertainment capital of the world is host to Bear v Shark II After a disappointing loss in the first matchup between the land and the sea the bear is back with a vengeance and out for blood All of America is obsessed with the upcoming spectacle so tickets are hard to come by With an essay entitled Bear v Shark A Reason. If you've read this it's not as good as you think it is and you need to get over it If you haven't you should because it's better than you think it will be and I think you're kind of ignorant for not giving it a shot