One of the wonderful side effects of having written and published this novel is meeting delightful new people. I’ve read fascinating emails and had heartfelt exchanges with people far away who I could have been lifelong friends with if we had only known met each other in fourth grade.
I met a guy named Tom Webb who hosts a review site called “A Bear on Books.” He’s one of these delightful new friends. I started liking him during our initial exchanges, but kept my distance because I didn’t want a burgeoning friendship to influence his book review. Well, he liked the book well enough, I guess. You can read his review here:
…or keep reading below for the full scoop.
Don’t read any further if you don’t like personal information, potential spoilers or rambling musings.
On a quiet evening in 1999, investment banker Perry Mangin attends an art show in San Francisco. He’s a nice looking man, not super hot but not a slouch.
Vin Vanbly is also at the event. He’s a mechanic from Minnesota, in town on vacation. Vin’s a bear – a stocky, hairy guy – and soon he and Perry notice each other. Vin waits, and soon Perry comes over where he’s studying the paintings.
The two men flirt and converse about little things. Then Vin begins to talk about the artwork, specifically a few pieces by a local artist. His knowledge of the pieces is profound, his insights piercing to Perry. As a crowd forms and Vin draws everyone around him in to the story behind these works, Perry reacts. And leaves.
When he checks in with the gallery the next day, Perry is surprised to find a note left for him. The note invites him to meet Vin Friday evening on Pier 33 and spend the weekend with him, submitting. The note promises it is not a S&M thing, but will forever change his life. It invites him to remember who he was always meant to be. But most importantly, it invites him to “Remember the King”.
Will Perry show? What does Vin have planned for him? And, what do the promises in the note mean for Perry?
A few words before I dive into this review. As I’ve posted in another place, this has been a rough few weeks for me and I’ve been tired and flirting with burn out. I review a lot, and have been stalled on that front, as well as in other areas. And, as usual, when I have a problem or issue, the Universe has a way of throwing the answer in my face in the most improbable ways.
Because this book – I’m rarely at a loss for words, but this book is an answered prayer.
Edmond Manning, bless him, has written a book of rare depth, beauty and importance. This work is all about the pains of the heart, finding ones true self and connecting with the mysteries of life. It is funny yet serious, deep yet easy, and heart breaking yet heart warming.
If read with an open heart, this gem of a book has the power of healing, the serenity of grace, and the security of a father’s hug. It’s about being powerful and connected and alive.
I really don’t want to give away too much of the plot and substance of this novel, but some points are important.
Perry has been unable to really develop a lasting connection with another human being, and is stuck. In some ways, he’s sliding under the waves. When the invitation to join Vin for the weekend comes, some part of him – the part longing for connection and openness – recognizes what might happen.
Vin is an enigma. He’s a mechanic, a visitor to the city on vacation. But he knows things about Perry he shouldn’t, thinks around corners, and acts like a madman. He has a plan and an agenda, and he fascinates the whole way through this story.
I don’t know if this tale resonates so loudly with me because I’m a man, and the author is male also. At the risk of sounding sexist, this story is written by a man, about a man. But the truths and issues are so universal, they transcend gender.
When I finished this book, I felt…alive again. Sad, powerful, energized, loved, open. And with the need to call my Dad.
I felt ‘kinged’. I am Tom, the Bear King.
Buy this book, carve out a quiet few hours, and open your heart to it. Let me know what King or Queen you are.