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Memoirs of a Polar Bear
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June 2018: Magical Realism > memoirs of a polar bear - 3 stars, I guess?

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Cheryl  (cherylllr)

Not 100% sure it's Magical Realism but it seems to qualify according to the discussion in the Announcement Thread.

Ambitious... almost succeeds.
Seems original, no doubt, to some readers, but I was reminded of I Am a Cat, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, and even Life of Pi. And of course there's obviously a lot of 'write what you know' going on, given the author's background.

Lots of cleverness. Some beautiful poetic stylings in the beginning that some readers might roll their eyes at, but that I missed when the prose become more, erm, prosaic. Lots of metaphorical themes & commentaries, what with allusions to climate change, East & West Berlin, racism, art, celebrities ((view spoiler)), etc. A *L*iterary scholar would have fun dissecting it.

But I think there's a larger message, something to unite the three stories, the generations, and I could not find it. It's definitely not a genre saga, nor is it really about polar bears (though I did learn a lot about them from a scientific pov). What it is, I just couldn't figure out. And it just plain ends, no resolution, no looking towards the future.

From the enchanting beginning:
"The willow trees, elegant, cunning, and overcome with ennui, kept poking their thin fingers into the water, perhaps hoping it would play with them. Pale green shoots punctuated their branches."

(Which reminds me, kudos to the translator, and kudos to the publisher for giving her more credit than is usually given.)

Later, random bits of philosophy and politics show up. A minor character spouts:
"I find it lamentable that we have to keep eating all the time so as not to just die on the spot. I detest 'gourmets.' The act as if food were an ornament that increases the aesthetic value of their lives. Which only works if they suppress all thought of how miserable it is that they have to eat at all."

message 2: by JoLene (new) - added it

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments The translator for this book was my classmate in high school. I picked this up as I saw it on her FB feed, but I didn’t get past the first bear. It’s one that I think I have to be in the mood for to read and I definitely wasn’t in the mood.

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Definitely requires the reader to be in the right frame of mind. I should add, though, that each of the three stories is quite a bit different, in mood and theme and plot....

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