Monday, July 19, 2010

THE BLUE BEAR, by Lynn Schooler

I enjoyed some of the nature-oriented passages, mostly because they engage my interests, but in the end this book felt contrived. It tries to wrap itself around a central topic--the author's friendship with a nature photographer--but the topic is too lightweight to support a whole book. The relationship in question is based on just a few shared trips, with more details of the natural events witnessed than of interpersonal bonding between the two main characters, and the author comes across more believably as a solitary man than as a man very profoundly connected to his friend. Solitary men can write good memoirs, but in this case the 'friendship' topic--typical memoir fare--feels unsuitable, and the author's effort feels fake. The memoir market is becoming a victim of its own success, with its increasing reliance on glib cliches and worn-out approaches, and this book is a memoir-formula casualty.

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