Bow Grip
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Bow Grip

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  339 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Ivan E. Coyote is one of North America's most beguiling storytellers and the author of three story collections, including "Loose End, " which was shortlisted for the Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction in 2006. "Bow Grip, " Coyote's first novel, is a breathtaking story about love and loneliness; in it, a good-hearted, small-town mechanic struggles to deal with a wife who has l...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published October 1st 2006)
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Also reviewed at Shelf Inflicted

Joey Cooper is a 40-something mechanic from a small town in Alberta, Canada who must pick up the pieces of his shattered life after his wife, Allyson, moved to the big city with another woman. Joey’s journey to self-discovery and fulfillment begins with some time away from work to return his ex-wife’s possessions, solve the mysterious disappearance of the stranger who bought a used car from Joey’s shop, and learn to play the exquisite hand-made cello he received...more
Bow Grip is a heartwarming and captivating novel that I read in a couple of sittings, and not because I was under pressure to finish it for a fast approaching book club meeting.

It is the story of Joey, a mechanic residing in Drumheller, Alberta, who finds himself drifting aimlessly after his wife leaves him and moves to Calgary with another woman. His mother and sister are troubled by his state and encourage him to take up a hobby before he ends up on Prozac. Coincidentally he ends up trading an...more
rating: 5/5

What I absolutely loved about this novel was the wonderful character exploration. They seemed real, like people that I actually could have known. They were vividly drawn, complete down to every virtue and fault, and Joe had an amazing inner dialogue.

It is so easy to sympathize with Joe Cooper, a man who a year after his wife left him for a woman is still trying to put his life together. His mom and sister are pushing for him to get a hobby. Into his mechanic shop walks in the town her...more
Christmas Booty - requested and received.

I read this book on Boxing Day. When you receive 14 Canadian books for Christmas, all of which you have asked for, it's really hard to decide which to read first. I chose this one, but I'm not sure exactly why. It might simply be because the photo of the old car on the cover reminded me of my father together with the fact that the author dedicated her book to all the men in her life. That charmed me a bit. Still does.

I read the whole book in one sitting....more
I didn’t want to read Bow Grip. It had a tough spine, and I hate books with a tough spine. But it was a Christmas gift from my brother, and I like to read books that are given to me so I can thank the person and mean it. So I read it. And I owe my brother. Owe him something awesome, because Ivan E. Coyote hooked me from page one and held me the whole way through, and has me still I think.

Bow River, Coyote’s first novel, introduces the reader to Joey a year after his wife has left him for another...more
Ivan Coyote is a true and legitimate "storyteller." She has the unique ability to capture ordinary characters lives and make them compelling for their simple human truths. This is an honest, down to earth story, about the journey on the long road between love and loneliness.

When his wife unexpectedly leaves him for another woman, Joey Cooper, a lonely middle aged mechanic begins to question his life and existence. Following his desire for changes in his condition, he trades an old car for a fine...more
Oct 30, 2010 Teddy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary fiction lovers
Shelves: read-in-2010
Bow Grip takes place in present tense, in around Drumheller and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Joseph is a 40-something divorced auto mechanic, trying to move on with his life. His wife Allyson left him for his hockey buddy's wife, Kathleen and moved from Drumheller to Calgary.

The story opens with Joseph trying to sell his car for cash but James Carson doesn't have any money. He does however have a cello and talks Joseph into a trade. Joseph figure that he can sell the cello but from the moment he op...more
Toby Wiggins
What shook me most about this novel was Ivan's portrayal of uniquely gentle, loving and anti-oppressive masculinity. Living in rural Alberta, working in a small town car garage, being surrounded by misogyny, and having you wife leave you for another woman is more than enough to leave the protagonist, Joey, acting like your typical racist, sexist dude bro. Ivan breaks down many stereotypes with such elegant simplicity, it left me practically breathless. Bow Grip is a spectacular read, showcasing...more
I came to become a fan of Ivan Coyote through seeing videos of her telling stories. My interest in reading her first novel, Bow Grip, comes from feeling connected to her as a person through her stories. You can have this same experience easily as she's got quite a few videos embedded on her site at:

But you don't need to know Coyote to read this book. Unlike her collections which contain autobiographical stories, this story is fictional. It centers around Joseph,...more
(Original review posted on my livejournal account:

Why I Read It: One of my fourth year English Lit classes is "Gender and Sexuality" and this was the first novel we were assigned to read. Prior to that, I had never heard of this book or author before, despite her being a Canadian author.

I'm always kind of nervous reading books for school when I've never heard of them before. I don't mind reading heavy stuff, but sometimes some readings feel like too much...more
Shonna Froebel
Bow Grip by Ivan E. Coyote

This is the first book I've read by this author, but I really enjoyed it, could hardly put it down. Joey is a man in his forties, a mechanic who runs his own small shop in Drumheller. A little more than a year ago, Joey's wife of a little more than five years left him for a woman. Joey's mom and friends are worried that he is keeping to himself too much and not moving on. His mom wants him to find a hobby or something. So when someone comes along and offers to buy the c...more
John Park
Apart from the fact most of them smoke, nearly all the on-stage characters in this book are nice. In fact Joey, the narrator-protagonist, meets several of them in the course of sharing tobacco fumes. He is a car mechanic living in Drumheller, much less of a redneck than he might be. Currently aged forty or so, he is recovering from the fact that his wife, the love of his life, has left him to live in Calgary with the wife of one of his hockey-playing acquaintances.

The plot is triggered when Jame...more
This book doesn't fit in many of the "shelf" categories I created, which is probably a flaw on my part but also indicative of what this book is like. Read it for my Women's Studies class in first year (borrowed the copy, I believe, from Abby, because as notorious a book-buyer I am, I'm an equally notorious book-borrower, from private libraries as much as public). It's not my usual reading, but it's a good novel, and I still find it absurdly exciting when things are actually set in Canada.
Madeline Anderson
While I think Ivan Coyote is one of the best writers of our time, I felt like this story would have been better suited for the short story genre. The characters were warm and lovable. Their voice, as usual, feels like an old friend sitting on your couch with a beer telling you a story. Sadly it wasn't one of my favorites as the story seemed to lack a climax.
I generally LOVE Coyote's work, but this one didn't do it for me. I prefer their more autobiographical stories. Beautifully written, but I was a little thrown by the subject.
I enjoyed this a lot. It surprised me a bit. I don't think I've ever quite read a protagonist like Joseph Cooper. But I liked him, and I was rooting for him.

In a way this novel felt like an extended short story. Not, I don't think, because it is on the short side, but because it deals with a fairly narrow slice of humanity. One man, one problem. In a way, one solution as well.

The characters felt real, believable and sympathetic. The settings were clear and not over-detailed. (I dislike reading...more
Bow Grip was my favorite book in the giant stack I dragged home recently.

It was a story of that moment when your life turns, you suddenly start seeing things in a completely different way and everything changes. The main character, Joey, drifts along in a funk after his divorce and, at the urging of family, friends...he takes off to deliver the last of his ex-wife's possessions to her and her new lover. Along the way, he also acquires a group of friends, a cello (a favorite instrument of mine),...more
Matthew Weait
This is a remarkable first novel that I read when I was living in Vancouver in December 2006. Ivan E Coyote is a Canadian who challenges assumptions about gender and sexuality and who explores the fundamental compassion that underpins the relationships people have with each other, whether those relationships bring disappointment or happiness. The principal character is a man of unfulfilled expectations, a garage mechanic who exchanges an old car for a 'cello and discovers himself. I found the ac...more
Rabbit {run little Red Ridinghood}
I loved watching Ivan E Coyote's open mics on youtube, and reading her novel was no exception. I enjoyed the plot and I liked how she wrote the characters. It made me super nostalgic about Alberta, and I think she did an excellent job of capturing the Alberta vibes. -le sigh- I also liked how she handled the main character's attitude of his ex leaving him for a woman, it was handled in a way that showed his pain but with no homophobic slurs. My one little nit-pick was that it felt like he got be...more
Honor book--2008 ALA Stonewall Awards, fiction

The second book I read while at PLA, and I enjoyed this one ever-so-slightly more than the other. I enjoyed reading about the protagonist's interactions with his family and his fellow small-town inhabitants. Being from a small town, I remember what it's like for EVERYONE to know your business--sometimes even before YOU do! I was *slightly* disappointed with the marginalizing of the *gay* angle, as it was an ALA Stonewall nominee. Still, I took it for...more
Coyote's first novel has pretty much everything I love about her stories: quiet, spare, earnest, unadorned prose. It's not epic and sweeping; it's not overwrought or over-clever. It's simple in its most exalted sense.

The only negative I can find in the novel is that it seems just a bit unfocused. Given that Coyote's stories tend to run for just a handful of pages, it's understandable that her first novel tends to stray a bit here and there. But nonetheless, I quite enjoyed the ride. As the bumpe...more
Mar 15, 2009 Jules marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book in the waiting room on the morning that my mother went into the hospital for scheduled surgery. Just hours later, my daughter was brought into the ER downstairs and my entire life changed forever. I picked up the book again, a week and a half later, looking for a distraction, and wanting to be lulled into some temporary sense of peace by a somber and lyrical voice. It is Ivan's gift, that kind of voice, and while the novel will forever be connected to this moment in t...more
This was one of those random library books I picked up and glad I did. The title and story caught my interest - it's about a guy in his 40s who picks up the cello and as a guy in my 40s who recently picked up the viola, I thought it would be interesting to see if he's encountering the same challenges I am. Well, we have different challenges, but the main character is an interesting guy, almost too nice at times, and the story was a good tale of resurrection. I liked the story as well as the west...more
More in need of a change than anything else, Joey--a 40ish mechanic whose wife recently left him--accepts a cello in trade for a car. He's ready for change which is exactly what his trip to Calgary brings.

A story of love, loneliness, hope, and a cello. Clean prose with a realistic small town main character. You will be comfortable with Joey. Coyote storyteller talents are evident but as I read I wondered if I'd rather listen to her tell a story (this story, even) aloud.

3 1/2 - 4 stars

I enjoyed this first novel of Ivan E Coyote's. She is one of my favourite authors, and has a knack of writing about characters that I want to know more about.

I did not enjoy this book quite as much as I have her short story collections, however it was a really good first novel and I am very glad that it was rescued from her computer's hard drive that was melted in a house fire.
Audrey ❦❦❦
I loved this quick read with local flavour about a mechanic in southern Alberta who makes a very unique trade for a beat-up car -- a cello! This leads him on to a series of adventures and misadventures. At times, I felt the author did not genuinely capture the male perspective of her protagonist, but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Meg M
It seems to me that this could have been a much better story than what it was. The characters all seem half-evolved to me. I got about fifty pages away from the end and felt like this would be the beginning of a good long novel. I was surprised and disappointed that it ended so early, before any of the characters had a chance to really grow on me.
I truly enjoyed Ivan E. Coyote's first novel. It reads so easily and is a visceral tale of a 40-ish divorcee whose wife left him for another woman.
It's his journey of self discovery while learning to play the cello that struck me as not only entertaining but also heart-warming.
A recommended read for everyone!
Carol Cram
Beautifully written and well plotted book. Loved the cello parts and the compelling characters. Ivan Coyote is a master storyteller.
This book, by a queer writer, is a complex story about a man trying to deal with life after divorce. It's a great book about how to deal with all the messy relationships in life and let's you know that sometimes people aren't what they seem on the surface. It's great when a quick read isn't just fluff.
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Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer, Ivan’s first love is live storytelling, and over the last thirteen years she has become an audience favourite at music, poetry, spoken word and writer’s festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam.
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