Setting Free the Bears Mass Market Paperback – May 30 1990
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"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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most recent customer reviews
There's no John Irving novel I don't love, except this one. Most of them, I have re-read about five times. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2004 by Ben Culture
If you like Irving's work, you will like this book. It's very wierd but that is what ol' Johnny is all about. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2002
Having met John in Iowa City before Garp was published, BEARS was all I knew of his work. I just re-read it.
Despite some lack of polish, it still moves me the most. Read more
Easily the best Irving book that I've ever read. This is an especially good read if you're not a huge Irving fan. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 1999
I've been a great fan of John Irving, but I was not able to appreciate this book - at all!! A real disappointment! Read morePublished on June 20 1999 by firstname.lastname@example.org
I've read at least five other Irving books including Garp and none left me as satisfied. The stories were cleverly interwoven and like so many Irving stories included traumatic... Read morePublished on May 5 1999