The Heavy Bear
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More About This Title The Heavy Bear
What happens when a respectable middle-aged father, teacher and writer decides one day to abandon his ordinary routine and embark on an unexpected journey toward an unknowable fate, following the ghost of Buster Keaton and a vision of a bear? In Tim Bowling’s fifth novel, The Heavy Bear, the main character – a sort of contemporary version of Joyce’s Leopold Bloom who just happens to be named Tim Bowling – spends an intense late-summer day in downtown Edmonton. Haunted by “the slender sadness” of the world, and unable to face his afternoon class, Tim Bowling finds himself pulled into an escapade revolving around an antique toy, a capuchin monkey and a young student our narrator likens to Pippi Longstocking. Accompanied by the shade of the silent-film star Buster Keaton, and the bear-shaped spirit of the American poet Delmore Schwartz, Bowling’s Tim Bowling must confront, with equal parts humour and sincerity, a fundamental problem of our age: how to make and maintain human connections in a world that seems intent on destroying them?
Apart from appearing as a main character in novels that he has written, Tim Bowling also works in many other genres of literature. His nineteen books have been shortlisted for major national prizes in fiction (the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, for his most recent novel, The Tinsmith, in 2012), nonfiction (the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize) and poetry (the Governor General’s Award and Canadian Authors Association Award), and in 2008 the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Bowling a fellowship recognizing his entire body of work. His writing has also been nominated twelve times for the Alberta Literary Awards and nine times for the City of Edmonton Book Prize.