Ordinary Bear, by C.B. Bernard

I was driving somewhere about three years ago (it was Target, who am I kidding, it’s always Target) when traffic came to a sudden stop.  Something was blocking the road about fifty feet ahead of me, causing cars to make a wide arc into oncoming traffic, which had also stopped.  When it was my time to go, I saw the obstacle was a goose, probably one that wandered over from the marshy field along the road that floods into a pond whenever it rains.  Despite their reputations, geese hold a special place in my heart which is not part of the story here but does explain why the next few moments are forever seared into my memory.  I slowed my car and made the same arc around the goose who was oblivious to the situation it was creating and was busily preening something from its wing.  As I pulled my car back into the correct lane, I noticed the car behind me had not made the arc as I and the other drivers had.  Instead, the two-ton vehicle drove forward and, as I watched in horror in my rear-view mirror, pinned the goose’s wing beneath its front tire.  I looked away at that point, but not before catching a glimpse of the horror of the bird’s face as it flung its other wing out in a split-second attempt to escape before it was crushed.  I don’t believe the driver even noticed, which is probably what stays with me after all this time.  It was just another ordinary day for whoever was behind the wheel.  Perhaps later there was a bit of feather pulled from the bumper, but otherwise, uneventful.

Ordinary Bear by C.B Bernard reminds me of this day and the reason why that dead goose will forever rot in the back of my mind—life is just so randomly cruel sometimes.  Other times it’s boringly evil, or “banal” as Hannah Arendt, who wrote about the surprisingly normal people who murdered millions of Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals during WW2, might say.  “Mindlessly violent,” though, is the phrase I think most accurately describes what happens in Bernard’s story.  Throughout the novel I thought of the (thankfully few) times in my life when I felt utterly destroyed, but without anything to blame.  No focus at which I might steer my rage.  In the novel, Farley barely survives such a mindlessly violent event that strips him of everything he loves in life.  But the worst part is that he did nothing wrong.  In fact, no one involved did anything wrong, but his daughter is still dead, and he is still barely alive.  (NOT a spoiler, this is on the back of the book.  I would NEVER 🙂  And as we all know, when rage has no outlet, it turns inward.  The fires of blame and guilt nearly incinerate Farley as he limps through his life that he no longer wants.  Bernard is not a fearful writer, and this portrait of Farley struggling to heal is painful to experience as a reader and unflinching in its attention to the assault a mind and body withstands under such devastating loss.

Read Ordinary Bear to experience, safely, one of life’s most ordinary and greatest nightmares—the death of a child.  Read Ordinary Bear and know that it will probably stir up strong feelings in your own soul as you follow Farley on his journey to regain his.  And read it knowing that depending on your own story, you might experience this book very differently from me, which is sort of the magical thing about stories, isn’t it?

Follow me on Facebook and subscribe here!

Use this link to find this book in your local indie bookstore (our book-buying choices matter 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *