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Bow Grip

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  450 Ratings  ·  76 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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Posted 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 from th
Sep 24, 2013 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 29, 2016 Linus rated it liked it
Shelves: straight
This might be the book for you if you like to read about average male protagonists and their average day that turns out to be rather special after all, but dislike the bullshit that comes with these kind of stories. Well. Bow Grip is actually quite good for that genre. So much less sexist, heterosexist and otherwise normative than most other novels that start out like this. Still, while I enjoyed the last bit, there was to much white-cis-male feelings for me to actually like this book, it was a ...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
Nov 04, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 22, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Oct 30, 2010 Teddy rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
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
Toby Wiggins
Aug 17, 2011 Toby Wiggins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2014 Mirrordance rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, archivi, english, digital
Un bel romanzo ambientato in Canada. Ancora una volta quello che mi colpisce nella scrittura di Ivan E. Coyote è una sorta di tranquillità e serenità che emana dai suoi scritti. Le sue storie non sono mai semplici, così come le vite dei suopi personaggi ma manca quel senso di claustrofobia e disperazione e cupezza che assai spesso ho ritrovato nella letteratura (e musica) canadese. Joey ha scoperto di essere sterile e di non poter avere figli, è stato lasciato dalla moglie che è "scappata" con l ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Tina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I’m cynical, but everyone in this novel was way too nice. It reminded me of the feeling I get watching Once Upon A Time (one of my guilty pleasures, I’ll admit, along with reading Halo novels). I make this comparison because while people die in both Bow Grip and Once Upon a Time, their deaths are realistic and have build-up, and aren’t done in the rather debilitating, depressing Games of Thrones way (the show I'm referring to mainly, which I’m not overly fond of, though I am a fan of the n ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Lester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second time reading this book..and just as good the second time!
I like how Ivan E. Coyote uses place names from Whitehorse and mixes them all up with Alberta etc.
When I read these stories it is as though they have small 'touchstones' for me.
The Capitol, Food Fair, Esso station on the corner..even Nelsons Salvage, except in Whitehorse it was Nelsons Hardware. Most of those places are gone now..but even after a hotel may change names 2 or 3 'oldies' still call it the original name.
Sep 03, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Mar 09, 2013 Pooker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada, fiction
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.
(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
Shonna Froebel
Mar 03, 2013 Shonna Froebel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, favorites
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
Taylor Parkkila
This is a beautiful novel. One of my favourite things that Ivan's ever put out, and now I'm hoping they'll write more novels in the future.

(Note: I love their short stories, and they will always be the reason I fell in love with Ivan's work. Short story writers take a lot of flak for being short story writers, and I want to say here that I'm not trying to pressure Ivan into writing more novels—I just really enjoyed this one and would love another).
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.
Tim Farmer
Jun 01, 2015 Tim Farmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like happy endings
Recommended to Tim by: book club member
A sweet story of a super-nice guy who finds his way back from the loss of his idyllic small-town life by venturing briefly into the big city. It isn't totally believable (at least for a cynical American guy) but it's a quick, fun read for those who want a contemporary fairy tale.
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.
Nov 20, 2013 Vic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 16, 2008 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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),
Matthew Weait
Aug 13, 2007 Matthew Weait rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2008 Evan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2013 Jimmie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jules Vilmur
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
Feb 26, 2015 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
simply and sweetly told.
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
Apr 02, 2015 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
sweet and real.
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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 they have become an audience favourite at music, poetry, spoken word and writer’s festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam.
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