Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bear City: The Novel By Lawrence Ferber

(Based on the screenplay co-written with Doug Langway)

Reviewer: Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Publisher: Bear Bones/Lethe, June 2013
Pages: 190

Four Stars Out of Five

Tyler is an athletic young man who is coming out of his second "closet." Already out as gay, he is now ready to admit to his friends that his attraction is to older, hairy, beefy guys, not the hairless circuit boys most of his friends drool over. His twinky best friend, Simon, doesn't understand that attraction, but helps him navigate the wilds of the "bear scene" in NYC, where Tyler meets and falls in instant lust with Roger, a self-assured, uber-popular "muscle bear" from whom he seems to be getting mixed signals. We also become aware of mini-dramas going on in the same scene, such as a longtime couple wondering if they need to "open" their relationship to keep it strong, and a 300+lb big bear with his Latino "chaser" boyfriend who opposes his partner's plan to get weight-loss surgery. All this takes place over a special "Bear City" weekend being hosted by a NYC bar.

Having previously seen – more than once – the 2010 comedy film on which this novelization is based, I had doubts that the book would be of much interest to me. For one thing, the action is definitely character-driven, rather than following some kind of logical plot, and it's not easy to keep all of the different, diverse individuals straight (so to speak) when only meeting them on a printed page rather than portrayed by an actor. To my surprise, the writer does a good job of pacing the story so that it can be understood, and including sixteen stills (including some "behind the scenes") photos from the film. Light erotic content is not out of place in this well-written, often amusing story, and it's overall a positive message about a growing minority within the gay community.

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