I came to become a fan of Ivan Coyote through seeing videos of her telling stories. My interest in reading her first novel, Bow Grip, comes from feeling connected to her as a person through her stories. You can have this same experience easily as she's got quite a few videos embedded on her site at: http://www.ivanecoyote.com/videos
But you don't need to know Coyote to read this book. Unlike her collections which contain autobiographical stories, this story is fictional. It centers around Joseph, a man in Drumheller, Alberta, who runs an auto shop and trades a car to a man called "The Cowboy" for a cello, the precipitating event of the story. Joseph feels it's a good trade as his mother and sister have been on him to get a hobby as a way to get his mind off his wife, Allison. She left him with the wife of another Drumheller man to live in Calgary, and Joseph has been understandably down about this.
Joseph winds up having a human adventure. The man he traded with disappears, and Joseph finds evidence of a woman he's connected to who may be living in Calgary. Also, while he's there searching for him, he might as well drop off the last of the books his wife left at their home. And why not seek out a cello teacher? No way is he going to find one in a little town like Drumheller.
In Calgary, Joseph befriends all sorts of people, and this connecting with others forms the heart of the story. At the beginning, I mentioned that I grabbed this book because I am a fan of Ivan, that I feel connected to her through her stories. Interestingly, this story is all about humans connecting with one another, and the ability to heal provided by these connections. And Joseph seems to learn about himself even as the reader learns how he interacts with and reacts to others.
It took this book to make me realize how much other stories I've read lately amplify the human experience to an unnecessary degree, not to mention how aggressively they thrive on conflict and the negative aspects of life. This is an excellent, quiet, authentic story that can make you feel human, happy, and whole.
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