SETTING FREE THE BEARS by John Irving
Kirkus Star

SETTING FREE THE BEARS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A wonderfully fresh, wildly imaginative notion of a book. The major portion consists of a journal addressed to Graft from Siegfried Javotnik, "Siggy," as he spends a long night in a Vienna zoo plotting out details for a "zoo bust." His observations center on the night keeper O. Schrutt who torments the small mammal house by deliberately setting the animals against each other. Interspersed in this midsummer night's diary are lengthy portions of Siggy's "Highly Selective Autobiography." The "Autobiography" is his imaginative recap of the lives of his grandparents and parents before he was born. And it's a black humorous sketch of Austria reacting to the war. Then there is an abrupt switch to Graft who, with his new girlfriend Gallen, is wandering through Europe. We learn of Siggy's death in a motorcycle accident but Graft has his journal and is becoming obsessed with the idea of the zoo. In a final, outlandish and bizarre scene Graft and Gallen indeed bust the zoo with horrendous consequences. One does not stop to question the madness or the meaning--youth in its blind vision? comic revolution? It's actively, overwhelmingly alive.
Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1968
ISBN: 0345417984
Page count: 287pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1968




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