Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Not Me

There's a new book out and it's entitled "Winkie".

What's it about?

Publisher's Weekly writes:-

This debut novel from memoirist Chase (The Hurry-up Song) begins with the capture and wounding by a SWAT team of the eponymous, sentient teddy bear in a backwoods cabin; the team thinks it has captured a mad bomber. In jail, Winkie, who no one denies is a teddy bear, must contend with cruel jailers; his stuttering, court-appointed lawyer named Unwin; the 9,678 counts of everything from treason to witchcraft he's charged with; and the intersection of his life with that of the previous possessor of the cabin, an old humanities professor whose bombs never worked.

While marking time, Winkie contemplates his past: his ownership by the Chase family, his loneliness when on a shelf , his magical awakening to life one morning—marked by a bowel movement so lovingly described that it recalls Bloom's in Ulysses. The sections devoted to Winkie's trial is a minor masterpiece of ridiculousness, in which the prosecution's move to end the trial after it has presented its side sounds uncomfortably close to what we read in the newspapers. This book is way too odd to be sentimental, and its political sensibility shuttles easily between the cartoonish and the shrewd.

Here's a more critical view:-

Chase might have a funny Saturday Night Live sketch here, but it isn't a novel.

His surface-deep satire strikes only the obvious one-note: In these terror-fueled times, the bumbling FBI might mistake a bear for bin Laden; the bumbling Justice Department prosecutes the case like the crime of the century; the bumbling media cover the bald farce as reality. Even Jay Leno cracks wiser than that.

But if Winkie falls short as satire, it also fails as fairy tale. Yes, Winkie is a stand-in for the dreams we discard in the rush to adulthood.

But Chase's prose is overly cloying: "If only Cliff loved him like before, with the old fervor, Winkie could be happy being a toy forever."

When Chase isn't overplaying the cute card, he's obsessed with bodily functions. He even finds the potty humor in Winkie's unexpected and painful childbirth.

Forget about childhood loneliness and the war on terror. What really fascinates Chase is what a bear does in the woods.

Here's the cover:-

So, what's it all about?

My nickname. It's Winkie.

I may be cuddly. I may be bearish (at times). I do like honey. In my youth, I have wandered in woods.

But this has nothing to do with me.

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