Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” as Want to Read:
The Bear Went Over the Mountain
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,966 ratings  ·  293 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 buo ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 5th 2000 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published September 1st 1996)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Bear Went Over the Mountain, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,966 ratings  ·  293 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Bear Went Over the Mountain
"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
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A tasty treat, I had to finish it a day after starting. A bear finds an unpublished manuscript, recognizes its potential as a best seller, and goes to New York to seek his fortune. A delight from start to finish,
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.
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
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?
Aaron Kent
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
this is the funniest book i've read in a long time.
🐴 🍖
definitely the best book about a bear becoming a bestselling novelist (& cheesy thing spokesperson) after stealing a manuscript from under a tree that i've read in the last little bit... the central joke (ppl mistaking statements from the bear like "honey" & "i hate dogs" for profundities) never gets old. infelicities are twofold: (1) a horrible spastic attempt at a.a.v.e. when the bear goes to harlem and (2) the chapters about the wronged novelist are far less funny/cutting than the chapters ab ...more
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
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.
David G
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
a fun curio of another era and style, sorta east coast liberal hippie rant skewering the entertainment industry and everything else in its way.
A bear finds a manuscript and starts his adventure to fame and fortune, while the original author goes on his own quest.
Funny piece, though for me it had made it's mark at the halfway point and kinda stayed in that groove.
And purveyors of 80's movies will see a definite similarity to Being There,though to menthe bear had more intention and forethought tha
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A enjoyable read...a completely different take than I imagined! Who knew a bear’s perspective would be or could be so hilarious?
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
One time read. This book started weak in my opinion. Kotzwinkle set the story well in the first two chapters but then the next 100 pages were not as intriguing. Almost stopped. The end was humorous in ways I could appreciate and unfolded the plot so that I was grateful to have pressed on. Only recommend if you can appreciate satire and are 21 or older.
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. ...more
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. ...more
George Marshall
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I wish I could say better things about the book, but it was not my favorite. I think it tried a bit too hard to be witty, clever and comical, and floundered for this reader. At the same time, it held a gripping power, quite advantageous as rather than set the book aside half-way through I decided to finish. To this staying power it owes its rating of 3, rather than 2.

The main character is positioned as someone counter-urban, aloof from human foibles and hangups. But ultimately he is an amoral th
Kara Jackson
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Books were always my best friends”bears are deep” “There ain’t nothing so deep as a bear”. - William Kotzwinkle
Dark and twisted this book is no story for children. It’s like a bedtime story for adults. It’s a humorous tale of bear stealing a man’s brief case and getting his manuscript published as a book. The story was well done but could have been executed a little better. This would make a for a great movie and some of lines even though cringey well have you laughing for days. “Now that she k
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
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: smart-funny
I enjoyed Kotzwinkle's straightforward style in this book, with clever observations that made me laugh out loud during the first quarter of the book as he set up the premise. About a third of the way in, he was still establishing the main characters and I found the book dragged, in part because it alternates points of view between the two main characters. The last third of the book was better, as the plot tension increased and the conflict came to a head.

That said, if you don't like the fantasti
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quirky, fun read that had me giggling for the first half of the book. The antics of Hal Jam were reminiscent of Chance, Peter Seller's character in Being There whose simply worded answers were misconstrued and molded into a meaning that suited any listener. In this case, the literary agents and industry people and others who hoped to use the stardom of Hal Jam, the famous 'author', to their advantage. I must say, however, that I started to lose the giggles and become disenchanted as we follow th ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh, what a fantastic, imaginative, creative, laugh-out-loud funny book! If you'd like an idea of the zany/creative charm of this book, it was written by the author who gave us ET the Extra Terrestrial.

A bear finds a book manuscript hidden under a pine tree in the main woods. "Termite food", he initially thinks. But after reading a few pages, he decides to keep the book, travels to NYC and passes it off as his own, under his new pen name Hal Jam.

Hilarious throughout, I had to stop reading several
Courtney Johnson
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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!
Jordan Grieve
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it
An odd book... I had a bit of trouble getting into it but after about the first third it was easier to read. It was a bit on the nose and obviously written by someone who was sick of the publishing industry. The jokes fell a bit flat, but I understood what the author was trying to say. We’re obsessed with money and material objects, we wouldn’t even notice someone was a bear if it meant making money. Got it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Johnstown Flood
  • Apocalypse bébé
  • Billy Bathgate
  • Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas
  • My Name Is Light
  • Quand nos souvenirs viendront danser
  • L'obsession Vinci
  • America - Numéro 11
  • Boys, Boys, Boys
  • Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams
  • Prendre les loups pour des chiens
  • Baise-Moi
  • Stupor Mundi
  • Ghostheart
  • How to Behave in a Crowd
  • Perfidia (Second L.A. Quartet #1)
  • Coming Home to Merriment Bay: Part Three: Christmas
  • Coming Home to Merriment Bay: Part Four: Starry Skies
See similar books…
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.

News & Interviews

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
45 likes · 10 comments
“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.” 5 likes
More quotes…