Nathan's Reviews > Honey for the Bears

Honey for the Bears by Anthony Burgess
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Aug 24, 08

Read in August, 2008

Honey for the Bears, published originally in 1963, is meant to be commentary on the cold war. Burgess mocks both communism and capitalism in an effort to state the universal truth that The State is ultimately The State and people are ultimately people; the more different our social views and constructs, the more apparent the uniformity of humanity. The commentary isn't veiled in the slightest, and I suppose his point comes across. Perhaps it was even poignant in 1963, and I can only imagine it would have been at least mildly controversial, not only for its political statement, but also its commentary on sexual identity.

But it isn't the reason to read this book. The reason to read the book is because Anthony Burgess is such a master with language, such a clever storyteller, so darkly perverse, and so damn funny. I think Burgess could write a novel about a bowl of soup, and it would be wildly entertaining. The way he uses words is entertaining in an of itself. the plot could almost be considered afterthought, if it weren't so indulgently wacky. I laughed out loud more times than I can count, and I held my breath in anticipation more than once. I breezed through it because I just didn't want to put it down.

No, it isn't A Clockwork Orange. The social commentary isn't as astute, and the story, while every bit as bizarre, isn't executed as well. The end of the second act is a gloriously satisfying mess, so strange, so off the beaten path that it has to be believed. I'd probably mark this around 3.5 stars. It's maybe not one of the greatest Literary works I've ever read, but it was a delightfully good time.
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