Friday, August 2, 2013

Bow Grip

Ivan E. Coyote
Arsenal Pulp Press
Reviewed by: Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Ivan E. Coyote is one of North America’s most beguiling storytellers and the author of three story collections, including Loose End, which was shortlisted for the Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction in 2006. Bow Grip, Coyote’s first novel, is a breathtaking story about love and loneliness; in it, a good-hearted, small-town mechanic struggles to deal with a wife who has left him for another woman until a used cello and an acquaintance’s suicide attempt compel him to make some changes in his life. With quiet authority, Bow Grip is about one man’s true rite of passage—trying to keep the ghosts of personal history at bay with a heart that’s as big as the endless prairie sky.

My Review

Joey Cooper is a 40-something mechanic from a small town in Alberta, Canada who must pick up the pieces of his shattered life after his wife, Allyson, moved to the big city with another woman. Joey’s journey to self-discovery and fulfillment begins with some time away from work to return his ex-wife’s possessions, solve the mysterious disappearance of the stranger who bought a used car from Joey’s shop, and learn to play the exquisite hand-made cello he received from the stranger in exchange for the car.

I loved this spare, engaging, and elegantly written story with its cast of quirky and colorful characters that help Joey discover life can be full of joy and wonder. The characters were so well drawn and interesting that I felt like I was leaving old friends behind when I closed the book. I also loved the vivid descriptions of small-town Alberta.  

My only gripe is the story was a little short, and everyone was so nice. I would have liked a lengthier story with more drama and conflict.  

While there were a few sad and touching moments, reading this story made me happy and gave me a slight warm and fuzzy feeling toward humanity. 

This is Ivan E. Coyote’s first novel. I’m looking forward to her short story collections.

Also posted at Goodreads.