Using my special patented “Work for Two Minutes a Day Strategy,” I’ve gone over each “page” of my first Kindle novel The Language of Bears, a very-funny-yet-also-rather-serious literary fantasy about the life and death of America, and made about a hundred “edits” in order to “produce” a better “reading experience” for my “readers.” I “republished” the thing “today.”
To celebrate the completion of this gleaming new version, I have reduced the price of both the Kindle and paperback versions by two American bucks (now only $2.99 and 12.99, respectively).
What is the book about? Well, I’ll tell you. The Language of Bears tells the connected stories of siblings Adam Green, a handsome and good-hearted but slightly paranoid young corn farmer and his rebellious 7-year-old sister Daisy Green. They live in a mysterious land called Arcadia, which seems like the bucolic and tranquil pre-industrial New England inhabited by the first Puritan settlers in the 1700s. Some qualities of Arcadia suggest not all is as it seems: a tree that grows giant apples, monstrous twenty-foot tall bears, an absolute lack of disease and crime.
Life for Adam and Daisy is torn asunder when Adam finds a mysterious box in the woods (the reader recognizes it as a television set) with a talking, disembodied head inside. The head tells him, inexplicably, “dry your beans.” Adam runs screaming from the forest to get help, but the television has vanished when he brings others to look at it. Through a series of heartbreaking (but sometimes darkly funny) occurrences, the discovery of the TV leads to Adam’s arrest and death sentence for witchcraft. While Adam’s troubles are unfolding, precocious Daisy Green, absolutely intolerant of bullshit from grownups, becomes furious with the adults in her life who won’t tell her what is going on with her brother. She also grows steadily more incensed at being constantly told that, because she is a girl, she must act “ladylike.” She runs away with her best friend Hildegard and gets into a harrowing adventure in the caves under Arcadia, where she makes an earthshaking discovery.
All of the nasty Arcadian events appear connected to the machinations of child-abusing, mega-wealthy pig rancher Obadiah Broke, who has become horribly deformed and mentally unstable because of an accident caused by making an experimental tanning fluid comprised of apple juice and pig brains.
The accusations of witchcraft against Adam cause a schism in the community. Some of the citizens side with the town’s insecure mayor William Gladford in arguing against the unscientific notion of witchcraft altogether, and some follow strict, dour, puritanical reverend Calvin Branch, the community’s spiritual leader, who sees Adam’s vision of the television as a sign of an impending apocalypse and a justification to conspire with Obadiah Broke to overthrow Mayor Gladford and bring back the ancient, viciously draconian Sabbatical Laws (whose legal punishments include flogging, branding, and burning at the stake) and make Arcadia great again.
Many beguiling elements abide in the book. A caged goddess, fist-sized mosquitoes, talking animals, etc.
Those expecting Dan Brown-style airport fiction probably will not like this book. I suspect fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Neil Gaiman, or David Foster Wallace will be favorably disposed to it. These are writers whose feet I kiss each morning (not literally!).
In a short span after original publication, The Language of Bears received several very positive reviews (most notably from Kirkus Reviews and IndieReader) and the first few Amazon reviews were also excellent (it has also been selected for review by Publishers Weekly, which I’m now waiting for). After these hopeful accolades, the book was torpedoed by two cranky readers who in quick succession left one-star reviews, even as they conceded they hadn’t actually read more than a few pages. This left the book with an average of three stars, a condition which pretty much dooms a book to the lowest circle of Amazon hell. Such is life.
I decided it couldn’t hurt to give the book a shot at revivification with a fresh edition. Why not? It’s spring! The birds are tweeting happily, the bees are thrumming along, my bean plants are lustily surmounting their climbing ladders! Rosanne Barr’s show has been cancelled! In short, it’s a time of rebirth and new hope.
“Witty, serious, and original, this stunning tale should attract anyone who delights in an intellectually stimulating read.” – Kirkus Reviews