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The Bear Went Over the Mountain
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The Bear Went Over the Mountain

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,652 Ratings  ·  250 Reviews
William Kotzwinkle, the esteemed author of The Fan Man and E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, is in top comic form in this outrageous and uproarious parable featring Hal Jam—a big black bear who finds a manuscript under a tree in the Maine woods, dons a suit and a tie, and heads off to the big city to seek his fame and fortune. What follows is a riotous magical romp with the bu
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 15th 1997 by Holt Paperbacks (first published September 1st 1996)
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"A bear stole my book."

And so begins the tale of a bear who finds a briefcase containing one would-be-writer's manuscript, steals a suit of clothing, and heads to the big city where he is instantly embraced as the latest literary darling. Comparisons to a certain manly, bearded author seem inevitable.

"Anybody ever tell you how much you resemble Hemingway?"


"Yes, who indeed. I think you might be just the one to make people forget him."

Of course, there's still the fact that even though those
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is awesome, plain and simple.

I worked at a Barnes and Noble in Wichita, KS when I bought this book. Back then I used to buy a lot of books based solely on the neatness of their cover and the quality of the binding. I'm pleased to say that this book had top marks in both categories and therefore warranted a purchase. Never did I imagine that I would find such a hilarious, scathing satire on the world of publishing and, indeed, modern society.

I thought that the title was going to be a me
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. I read it in my late teens; I read it in my late twenties; and I have read it a third time in my mid-thirities. Every time I have read this book, I have loved it.

Reading it now, what strikes me is the word-play that Kotzwinkle employs to both underline the ridiculous situation he has created and the fun that can be had thereafter. The phrase, "because he was a bear," works time and time again to great effect.

I am sure that I will return to this book again--and that I will,
Derek Haines
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed ninety-five percent of this read. A fantastic plot and it kept me giggling to myself almost all the way through. Hal Jam grabbed me from the moment he stole the briefcase and manuscript. Hardly fair, but the characterization of literary agents gave me a good laugh. Great read for any writer. The only criticism I have is that the ending seemed to be all a bit rushed. I wonder if an editor was making it fit into a word count?
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
I don't know which character I'm supposed to sympathize with; if any. I can see the similarities drawn between this book and "Forrest Gump". Hal Jam (the bear) floats along without saying much but is still handed the keys to the kingdom. In the end I felt sorry for Art Bramhall, who we are led to believe has found happiness with his character assassinated, his identity stolen and the loss of a chance of millions of dollars. No, he's happy in the forest having traded places with the bear. I didn' ...more
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Cute and fluffy. (copied review) You might think that a writer best-known for novelizing the movie "E.T." would find a satire on the book publishing industry hitting a bit close to home, but William Kotzwinkle seems quite comfortable with the task in this comic fable. In Kotzwinkle's merry send-up, the author of the hit novel "Desire and Destiny" is a bear, a real bear, who after finding the manuscript under a spruce tree and attaching his nom de plume, Hal Jam, becomes rich and famous overnight ...more
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
I thought the idea of this book was interesting and unique. A bear finds, steals, and passes off as his own a book written by a professor. The chapters alternate between the bear who is pretending to be human and the professor who is becoming more and more like a bear. The reactions of the people around the bear are funny . . . they hear long self serving answers in the bear's short, nonsensical answers. This is great commentary on the nature of fame, publicity, and even the academic profession. ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un livre original et divertissant, une critique du paraître et du monde de l édition.
Aaron Kent
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
this is the funniest book i've read in a long time.
Eric Susak
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This magical-realist take on stolen identity is not only comical, it also analyzes how one's nature and preconceptions influence their understanding of the world.
John Frankham
Jan 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I couldn't be bothered to write my own review of this puerile, pretentious book. The following is the previous review that fits my views best:

I really didn't care for this book. It started off amusing but really went downhill for me. If this is supposed to be a modern fairytale then the only conclusion I can make from it is that crime pays. The author does not appear to think much of the publishing/entertainment industry, politics, or women. Come to think of it, he doesn't seem to think much of
Oct 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't FINISH the book; I finished READING the book. There is a difference. It had been on my TBR list for so long, I forgot why I put it on there. Guess the back blurb..."complicated satire, hilarious fun, and barbs of steel amid fields of whimsy" called out to me some years ago. I shouldn't have answered.
Basic premise of the book: A bear finds a manuscript in a briefcase in the woods, and pretends he is the author. Jeepers. That should have stopped me right there.
I've found that anything des
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Amusing. It's a little bit Being There, a little bit "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" (Jorge Luis Borges), perhaps even a little "The Emperor's New Clothes." Although the novel is for the most part a satire on celebrity obsession, it includes some useful exploration of the theme of identity.
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: Dot Roberts
Shelves: bookcrossing, humour
A Bookcrossing book passed from Dot. A funny story of a bear that steal a manuscript that turns in to a best seller. Everyone around him is so wrapped up in his celebrity that they don't recognize that he is a bear. The book pokes fun at all sorts of modern life.

If you like this type of story try reading Happiness: A Novel the story of another best seller that spins out of control - very funny. It was originally titled "Generica"
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is so funny and quirky that you just have to read it. I heard about it on an NRP interview about books to cure the winter blahs -- and they were right on.

The premise is that the main character is a bear who finds a lost manuscript and takes over the authors life. Everyone thinks the bear is "fresh" and "wordly" and wants to ride the coat tails of this up and coming new "author."
Sep 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Dave Bidini recommended ( Kotzwinkle, so I chose to look him up. The Bear Went Over the Mountain is laugh out loud funny and seems to be a brilliant satire on being a writer--a successful writer.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Is it better to be a famous, critically acclaimed author, or a bear? This books asks those questions, but leaves the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. An English professor goes on sabbatical to a cabin in the Maine woods to write a novel. The briefcase containing his manuscript gets stolen by a bear, who somehow finds his way to a literary agent in New York City and passes the work off as his own and becomes a literary sensation. Nobody seems to notice that he is a bear, which only adds to ...more
Angela Tuson
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although the cover gives the impression of a children's book, this isn't. At all. It is - however - very funny. It's as if Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions and Charles Sellier's Grizzly Adams were mixed together by Bill Bryson and Kinky Friedman. This deeply silly and ridiculously entertaining story is about a human author and a black bear who long for each other's worlds, and this is not noticed by the publishing people who are the REALLY insane protagonists!
Marilyn K.
Whimsical and imaginative

Unlike anything else. It reminded me of the screwball comedies written in the 2930s and 1940s. However, it didn't seem to have a point and the rambling tale became too. Trite to hold my interest. I ended up skipping forward, to see if there was more substance to the story. Sadly, there wasn't.
Tofu Sauvage
Difficile d'appréhender ce roman ... le mot qui me vient à l'esprit est "foutraque". C'est drôle et satyrique, mais ça va tellement trop loin dans l'absurde que j'ai eu du mal à rester accrochée ... et pourtant, toujours ce rythme, une petite réplique, et hop, on a envie quand même de voir où l'auteur veut nous emmener.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fun and witty magic realism fiction book that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. It's both funny and tragic, as all the best books are. The text is filled with edgy parodies of publishing and media business, as well as our so called civilized way of life. The best part is that after the hours of hysterical laughter the ending of the book makes you want to cry.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found the book a delightful read, whimsical and very clever; lots of surprises and plot twists. Entertaining, quick read. Was perfect for one of my vacation picks.
Jacqueline Bru
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Une lecture réjouissante! Situation loufoque qui égratigne dans la bonne humeur le monde de l'édition et de la com.
Pia Ferrara
Apr 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
La recensione è anche su Fantasy Magazine:

E se ce l'aveste fatta? Se dopo numerosi tentativi fallimentari foste riusciti a scrivere il romanzo dei vostri sogni? Quello che vi spalanca le porte dell'Olimpo della letteratura e vi fa schizzare il cima alla classifica degli autori di best seller? Riuscite a immaginarlo? Bene. Provate ora a immaginare se il frutto delle vostre fatiche vi venisse sottratto. E provate a figurarvi nientemeno che un orso nell'atto
Adam Duclos
Feb 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
❥ Azzurra
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, humor
Sono felice di dire che il libro si è dimostrato all’altezza delle aspettative.
L’orso che venne dalla montagna è un libro veramente divertente, che non scade nel banale e anzi mantiene un tono irriverente e umano in ogni riga.
Non ho mai letto E.T. e tantomeno ho visto per intero il film, nonostante sia un classico osannato (non picchiatemi! ho ancora tempo per rimediare ;), posso dire però che Kotzwinkle con questo testo ha acquisito un nuovo affezzionato lettore.
Ogni passo che ha visto il no
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was really hoping to enjoy this one. The reviews made me think it was a witty story about a bear trying to become a human after finding a novel in the woods. Alas, I did not, and I'm disappointed for sticking it out in the hopes it had a redeeming conclusion.

It ended up being a commentary on the stupidity and shallowness of our society, and our inability to see people (or bears) as they really are. The characters either made their own reality to serve their purpose (show business), or never l
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, silly
This certainly seems to be a polarizing book among friends who've read it. I loved it though - it's a silly implausible romp which somehow worked for me.
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William Kotzwinkle is a two-time recipient of the National Magazine Award for Fiction, a winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Prix Litteraire des Bouquinistes des Quais de Paris, the PETA Award for Children's Books, and a Book Critics Circle award nominee. His work has been translated into dozens of languages.
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“Their leader wore a Nazi helmet and had renamed himself Heimlich in honor of the man who ran the SS, not knowing he'd confused the Heimlich maneuver for rescuing choke victims and Heinrich Himmler.” 3 likes
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