Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

The Bear Went Over the Mountain cover The Bear Went Over the Mountain (1996)

World Fantasy Award nominee

Owl Book trade paperback
cover art by Peter de Sève
306 pages (left)

From the back cover:
       William Kotzwinkle, the beloved author of The Fan Man and E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, is in top comic form in this outrageous and uproarious parable featuring Hal Jam - a big black bear who finds a manuscript under a tree in the Maine woods, dons a suit and tie, and heads off to the big city to seek his fame and fortune. What follows is a riotous magical romp with the buoyant Hal Jam as he leaves the quiet, nurturing world of the forest for the glittering and corrupt world of humans. New York and Hollywood and all that lies between serve as an expansive palette for Kotzwinkle's wickedly funny satiric brush. The Beat Went Over the Mountain skewers our age's obsession with money and fame in a delicious bedtime story for grown-ups!

Read for group discussion on March 11, 1998

Amy's short summary : William Kotzwinkle - The Bear Went Over the Mountain

       This is a satirical talking animal fantasy. A professor on sabbatical, Arthur Bramhall, writes a book and hides it under a tree in the Maine woods. A passing bear steals it, reads it, and thinks it's great. The bear puts his own made-up name, Hal Jam, on the manuscript, dons a suit and tie, and heads off to New York to find a publisher. The book is a bestseller and simple, unassuming Hal Jam becomes a celebrity. Meanwhile back in Maine, professor Bramhall finds himself going back to nature.

summary written by

How we each rated this book
Dan 9 Amy 7 stack of boooks 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 6 Barb 9
Aaron 7 Cynthia 6
Lars 9 Jackie 8

Our book group has also read the following books by Willam Kotzwinkle:
Fata Morgana  in August 2003
William Kotzwinkle (1943-      ) Is a US writer who has worked in several genres. He has written around thirty books, starting with tales for children, then later for young adults and adults.  Many of his works are fantasy but he has also done several SF movie tie-ins.

1977 World Fantasy Award for
novel Doctor Rat

Kotzwinkle is a two-time recipient of the National Magazine Award for Fiction, and a nominee for the National Critics Circle Award.

His books for adults include Hermes 3000 (1972); Fan Man (1974); Doctor Rat (1976) a beast technofantasy; Fata Morgana (1977) a fantasy mystery which starts in Paris in 1860; Herr Nightingale and the Satin Woman (1978) which follows a detective through Europe; Queen of Swords (1984) a modern mainstream novel; Seduction in Berlin (1985); The Midnight Examiner (1989) a funny book about a tabloid; The Game of Thirty (1994) a mystery; The Bear Went Over the Mountain (1996); The Exile (1997) a literary dark fantasy novel of identity exchange and World War II; and The Amphora Project (2005).

Kotzwinkle's story collections include Trouble in Bugland (1983) containing "Inspector Mantis" juvenile mystery/ fantasy tales; Jewel of the Moon (1985) containing 15 stories; Hearts of Wood and Other Timeless Tales (1985) which has 5 fantasy/fairytale stories; The Hot Jazz Trio (1989) with three literary fantasy stories; and Tales from the Empty Notebook (1996) with 4 fantasy stories about a magic notebook.

Some movie tie-ins are E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Superman III (1983), and E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet (1985).

Several of Kotzwinkle's recent books for children are The World Is Big and I'm So Small (1986); The Million-Dollar Bear (1995); The Return of Crazy Horse (2001); Walter The Farting Dog (2001); Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale (2004); Rough Weather Ahead for Walter the Farting Dog (2005); Walter the Farting Dog goes on a Cruise (2006); and Walter The Farting Dog: Banned From the Beach (2007).

Our book club's page for Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle
William Kotzwinkle - Wikipedia
The Bear Went Over the Mountain -- Curled up with a good book review

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This page was last updated October 27, 2008