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The Bear in a Muddy Tutu

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Lennon Bagg's daughter has been stolen away by his ex-wife, and he's just learned the newspaper he reports for is bankrupt. While on his final assignment, Bagg knocks a policeman unconscious to save the life of a runaway circus bear, and suddenly finds himself responsible for a band of stranded roustabouts who've pitched their tents on a small island along the New Jersey s ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published February 20th 2011 by Camel Press (first published February 16th 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Regan Leigh
Mar 28, 2011 Regan Leigh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
I actually reviewed Cole's book early on for my blog.
(Disclaimer: I am his writing partner and friend, so yes I may be biased. Then again, I would only want the best for a writing partner.)

Here are some of the comments I made on my blog. The entire review is too long to paste here.

- I loved Cole's writing voice from day one and I knew immediately that he'd be published. And soon. Just ask him. I was annoyingly optimistic and pushy.

- Reading The Bear in a Muddy Tutu is like running away with
Mar 26, 2015 Lauren rated it did not like it
To be completely honest, about 30 pages in, I stopped to read reviews about the book. I hated what I had read so far. I checked so many different sites for reviews and on every single site, the book was rated about 4-4.5 stars. I started reading what people had to say and I swore I was reading a different book. I could not figure out how this book was about a circus and when a bear in a muddy tutu was going to show up.
There was a segment in the middle that I really started to get into. We meet a
LK Griffie
Apr 18, 2011 LK Griffie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed

Who could resist a title like The Bear In A Muddy Tutu? Certainly not me. Then I glanced at a few sample pages and I was hooked. The beginning of the book was strongly evocative of Peter Hedge's What's Eating Gilbert Grape? with perhaps the characters of Gilbert and Arnie rolled into one. Not that I am saying Alpaugh cribbed anything. I just knew from the introduction of Billy Wayne Hooduk, as he ran away from his domineering, morbidly obese, piece-of-work mother at the age of thirty to become a

Nancy Starn
Apr 04, 2011 Nancy Starn rated it it was amazing
In a nutshell: loser (thirty-something) guy finds a book on how to become a cult leader and moves out of his mother's house on a quest to cultivate followers. Shower scene flashback is bizarre. Like watching a car crash. Oh, there is an actual car crash later on that is one of the most memorable parts of the book. Also happening, a reporter for a newspaper about to close down goes out on a lead about a bear attack at a golf course. He saves the bear from a messed-up cop and returns it to the tra ...more
Donna Semanski
Mar 25, 2011 Donna Semanski rated it it was amazing
Quirky, crazy, disgusting, and sad are the words that came to mind after finishing this very unusual book. It was recommended to me by our elderly librarian, who claimed to have read and found it charming. I think she may have been confused. The story is about a train wreck of a man who escapes the grasp of his domineering mother. Also unfolding is the tale of a soon to be out of work newspaper reporter, as well as a doomed traveling circus. The writing is flat out great. I felt myself being led ...more
Sep 06, 2016 Keely rated it really liked it
Butterflies and zonkeys and misfits . . .
and dancing bears . . .
That’s all she ever thinks about . . .

(Sorry, changing the words to an old song there.) It was an oddly uplifting story, made me laugh and made me cry. Whether the characters were likable or not, I found it intriguing getting to know each one of them. I was left with some questions in the end, but overall it was an entertaining read.
Rhiannon Ellis
Mar 17, 2011 Rhiannon Ellis rated it it was amazing
A deftly written story driven by raw and vivid characters and rich with evocative language and colorful descriptions. With every page another layer is peeled back as this fascinating, magical tale unfolds--sad or humorous, but always thoughtful. Alpaugh's writing does not rely on cheap tricks or predictable plot points, but slowly pulls you in and compels you to stick around for a while. Rest assured, in The Bear in a Muddy Tutu, you will constantly be surprised by what happens next. --Rhiannon ...more
May 04, 2011 Clarissa rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It was really great how each person's path and story comes together in the end (even half a world away). Each character was well-defined, even the Gracie.... Adults will love this book, may not be enough action for teenagers.
Jill Furedy
Feb 18, 2013 Jill Furedy rated it liked it
Starting off the book with Billy Wayne's story, I wasn't sure how much I would like it. I wasn't fond of Billy...I felt a little bad for him, but the idea of starting his own cult seemed bound to lead to no good. Especially with how he begins his adventures. I didn't really want to follow him through one idiotic mistake after another and his total naivete. But then we meet Gracie, whom you can't help but love, and Slim, then the Bagg family, and then I had to see how it would all come together. ...more
Cheryl Lee
Mar 25, 2011 Cheryl Lee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: circus
This was a new arrival on our library shelf Wednesday morning. The title and first few pages grabbed my attention, and then I couldn't put it down. I like stories told from multiple points of view, but usually pick a favorite and tend to rush through the rest. But with this book each shift from character to character moved the story at an almost frantic pace, even when one character is sitting still and trying to be invisible. The writer challenges you to decide what is real and what are figment ...more
Apr 19, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book, written by a man who could easily be related to John Irving. His writing is magical, as was this story. I was captivated by the characters, drawn in by the story and am thrilled to report I had no idea how it would all turn out. The bits of sadness were, if not welcome, necessary to the plot. He has a true talent for description and for transporting the reader to every locale - from the salty New Jersey shore to the pristine waters of Bermuda. What a joy to read a book ...more
Shawn Powell
Aug 16, 2012 Shawn Powell rated it it was amazing

This book was 4 stars for me right up until the end. I LOVED the ending. I don't care one iota if what happened at the end was remotely plausible, it was MAGICAL. All of the characters encountered here were so unusual and different and fascinating and tragic! From the wanna-be cult leader to the dancing circus bear (LOVED her!) to the grieving newspaper reporter whose daughter was stolen away from him 5 years prior, to his daughter, on a quest to find her beloved father (who might be a bird), t
Captain M
Apr 07, 2012 Captain M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure, brilliant
From the first page to the last this novel's zany characters and situations are fit for a book with such a unique title. The bear who goes by Gracie will win your heart and keep it moments after she is introduced. While the majority of the plot lines are dark situations, the writing is brilliant and keeps you hopeful for the characters long after they have given up themselves. A testament to the wonderful storytelling is the perfect ending, where you don't realize until long after you've shut th ...more
Susan (susayq ~)
This book reminded me of the movie Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill. You know, one of those where you have a whole slew of characters that you get snippets of the overall story from everyone's point of view and you wonder how they're all going to come together.

About mid-way through I couldn't put the book down cause I just had to know if Lennon would ever find his daughter and how on earth he'd get to her if he did. Let's just say I'm glad I didn't quit reading :)
Aug 15, 2011 Kathy marked it as rejected-did-not-finish
Okay, I started this book with anticipation because it seemed to get good reviews. The first chapter was so wierd and I did not like the character. And that character seemed to feature in many pages following. Isn't it good to know that even I have my limitations!
May 07, 2012 Blair rated it liked it
A good, dark, quirky book. It's kind of all over the place. A cast of characters all on the run from their past meet together in a travelling circus. There they find acceptance and the encouragement to confront their demons. Wonderfully written with very few sluggish sections.
Erik Weber
Apr 05, 2016 Erik Weber rated it did not like it
An overboiled, hyper-realistic and gritty, sardonic bore with morally cracked characters hellbent on instantly drawing hate from the reader at every action and word of dialogue (or inner monologue). No thanks and never again.
Oct 15, 2011 Lynn rated it it was amazing
That was friggin awesome. Yes, I have a college degree and I have stooped to less than acceptable language. But it's the truth!
Aug 27, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
A boy on the verge of manhood finds a book on starting a cult. As e follows the advice in the book, he finds a circus. What better place to try his new occupation?
Jul 27, 2011 Jerry rated it really liked it
Liked but didn't love this book. Of all the characters, Lennon was really the only one even slightly likeable and sympathetic as opposed to just pathetic.
Jun 14, 2013 Becky rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky, unexpected book. The author's ability to pull together disparate storylines is amazing.
Oct 15, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it
A wonderful, magical story that is sad, humourous and often very witty about a group of social misfits both human and animal. The story ends too soon. Highly recommend.
Aubrie Dionne
Aubrie Dionne rated it it was amazing
Dec 05, 2011
Bronwen rated it liked it
Apr 06, 2015
Richele rated it it was ok
Apr 25, 2016
Janet Kroll
May 16, 2011 Janet Kroll rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book.
Shannon rated it really liked it
Dec 25, 2012
E.E. Giorgi
E.E. Giorgi rated it it was amazing
Jan 23, 2014
Seelaread rated it really liked it
Nov 13, 2012
Matt Simpson
Matt Simpson rated it liked it
Apr 30, 2015
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Cole Alpaugh began his newspaper career in the early 1980's, at a daily paper on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where he covered everything from bake sales to KKK meetings. He moved on to a paper in Massachusetts to specialize in feature essays, where his stories on a Hispanic youth gang and the life of a Golden Gloves boxer won national awards. His most recent newspaper job was at a large daily in Cen ...more
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“And there was nothing quite like the surprise attack of a snarling black bear, even one missing all forty-two teeth, to urge someone back to work. Waking up with several hundred mud-encrusted, reeking pounds on top of you — your neck suffering a hickey of epic proportions — just pushed the limits on what was tolerable.” 2 likes
“Taking a couple short backup swigs, Flint’s crippling headache started to release its grip, sort of the way he imagined an octopus would release an inedible bowling ball.” 2 likes
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