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Setting Free the Bears Mass Market Paperback – May 30 1990

3.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (May 30 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345367413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345367419
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.5 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #241,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"The most nourishing, satisfying novel I have read in years. I admire the hell out of it" -- Kurt Vonnegut Jr "Sensual, moving, truly remarkable" Time "Imagine a mixture of Till Eulenspiegel and Ken Kesey and you've got the range of the merry pranksters who hot-rod through Mr Irving's book, tossing flowers, stealing salt-shakers, and planning the biggest caper of their young lives" The New York Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

It is 1967 and two Viennese university students want to liberate the Vienna Zoo, as was done after World War II. But their good intentions have both comic and gruesome consequences, in this first novel written by a twenty-five year old John Irving, already a master storyteller. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Not my favorite of his but I appreciated this book more after some time had passed. Although it was a bit cumbersome at the time, the book has truly stayed with me, more than other Irving novels that I might have enjoyed more while I was reading them. But when reviewing this novel I think It really depends on whether you are comparing this book to other John Irving books or to other books in general. Sure it isn't "garp" or even "hotel new hampshire" but "setting free the bears " has got more to offer than plenty of highly rated books out there. Plus it's always interesting and perhaps enlightening to go back and read the early works of a beloved author.
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Format: Paperback
This book has a great deal of mediocre writing, poor character development, and forced humor; however, it was a very enjoyable and stimulating read. I think that this paradox is part of the enjoyment, in that a book that begins so poorly could grow on you to the point that you don't want to put it down. All the later themes and symbols of Irving's more mature work are here: bears, motorcycles, conspirators, Vienna, the sudden unexpected catastrophe, and the story within a story.
The novel is divided into three parts and is concerned with Siggy's plan to free the animals of the Vienna zoo. While this story line is central to the book, it is the flashback, or the Notebook section, that is the strongest part of the novel. The notebook section is in many ways a precursor of "The Pension Grillparzer" of Garp and deals with the Anschluss era of Austrian history and Yugoslav civil strife during World War II. This section is written with the same humor, compassion and clarity that are to be found in his later works. Freedom in all its manifestations (and its inherent disadvantages) is the apparent theme of the novel and this theme is dramatized with the freeing of the animals of the zoo. This idealistic, but irrational, act proves that one man's (creature's) bars are another's security.
Perhaps giving this book four stars is a little generous, but after I had finished the book I was surprised by how much I was moved by the novel and amazed at the young Irving's ability to manipulate his complex material into a coherent satisfying whole.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have always felt that John Irving is a literary idealist of very respectable stature. This book is vintage Irving in terms of its outrageous story line, cast of soul-searching characters, and witticism-infused style of prose, but it lacks the formality which is the inescapable inheritance of a Writer of Major Recognition. This being his first novel, it seems to be the one written with the greatest freedom, and as a tale of misguided, wayfaring characters bound to their less than idyllic fates, it still manages to be heartbreaking in its portrayal of innocent idealism. This is a great book; I consider it Irving's best. I can't say many bad things about _A Prayer For Owen Meany_, either, but the manner in which it is told is much different than this story about the reckless spirit of youth.
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Format: Paperback
I don't want this to be a running theme, but in concurrance with the other reviewers, this book is definitely not for the Irving connoisseur. It is broken into three sections, of which the second is the only one worth reading as it foreshadows Irving's later-to-flourish talent of weaving together storylines and plots from various sources into a meaningul synergy. If you can make it through the first two hundred pages, don't stop because there is a kernel of beauty to be found; however, if you don't make it that far, nobody (including me) is going to blame you. As a final note, I did appreciate the lengths to which Irving was able to prorogue the title's implied theme throughout all of the story's happenings and not just in the zoo break itself (not to spill the beans).
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By A Customer on Aug. 11 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to give this book two stars for being a John Irving novel, and one star for the story of Siggy's mother and father. However, the rest of the story leaves much to be desired. I'm not surprised that this turns out to be his first novel. In fact, in Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, Irving states that he doesn't believe that this novel would even be published today as a first novel. If you're a huge Irving fan this is worth a read as it contains the common Irving themes of Vienna and bears, but don't expect the quality of his other novels. If Irving's work is something that you either love or hate, you'll love all his other works but hate this one.
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By A Customer on May 7 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading the wonderfully Irving's imaginative, captivating and sometimes zany books, The World According to Garp, A prayer for Owen Meany, The Cider House Rules, Hotel New Hampshire and Widow for One Year, Setting Free the Bears was a let down. The characters were extremely annoying and hard to stomach. After reading about Siggy for 150 pages I was ready to put the book down. I don't know much about motorcycles, and dodn't care to learn. I'll admit, maybe Setting Free the Bears just wasn't a book for me. Whatever you do, don't let reading this bland novel turn you off to John Irving's other novels. Most of them are supurb.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a _huge_ fan of John Irving, I expected Setting Free the Bears to be another great novel. Instead, I found it to be very disappointing. The character development was weak, the plot line boring, and the novel just did not appeal to me. I found it very difficult to finish this book. Granted, this was Irving's first work so I can't criticize him too much for this book. If you are interested in Irving, check out his other books -- Owen Meany, Garp, Cider House Rules, and some of his other ones too. He is an amazing author and Setting Free the Bears doesnt do him justice.
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