Dancing with Bears

William Borden


     Lyle Gustafson, bear researcher and culinary avant-gardist, means well, but why is he in danger of being shot, arrested, fired, and his wife stolen by his best buddy?  An encyclopedic comedy.      

     When a writer takes a "walk with bears," a journey begins that takes him from the unruly forests of Minnesota to the wilds of Manhattan and the seductions of Saskatoon. Lyle and the writer didn't plan for Ben Creswell, the feral Vietnam vet, to wind up splattered across his cabin wall. Lyle's wife didn't plan to mention Lionel Running Bear and their sweat-soaked grapplings in mud and radishes. Does Lyle, bear researcher and culinary avant-gardist, love his bears too much and his wife too little? Is the writer becoming too much like Lyle, rounding up not only Lyle's bears but Lyle's wife as well? Does Diane, who moves her unmentionables into Lyle's wife's closet, love success more than she does Lyle? Does Lyle's wife find the writer bearish enough? What meets our eyes changes shape, those we love transmute into strangers, and accidents fling us onto paths that seem to be the ones we wanted to travel after all. And then there's the spontaneity of lust, the slipperiness of love, and the meanderings of good intentions.    

ISBN: 9781604890211 Trade paper $16.95     Sale $6.50

ISBN: 9781604890204 Library binding $27      Sale $11.50

330 Pages

About the Author: 

"William Borden is a novelist, playwright, poet, and essayist. His novel Superstoe, first published by Harper & Row in the U.S. and by Victor Gollancz in England, was recently reissued by Orloff Press. The film adaptation of his play The Last Prostitute, starring Sonia Braga, was shown on Lifetime Television and in Europe. His short stories have won the PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize and The Writers Voice Fiction Competition and have been published in over 50 magazines and anthologies. His plays have won over 100 playwriting competitions and have had over 300 productions throughout the world. A Core Alumnus Playwright at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, he was Fiction Editor of The North Dakota Quarterly 1986-2002 and is Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at The University of North Dakota. He has an A.B. from Columbia University and an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley. Born in Indianapolis, he has lived on the wind-swept plains of North Dakota, on the sun-splashed Greek island of Paros, on a pine-shaded lake in northern Minnesota, and, since 2004, within howling distance of several coyotes 30 miles east of Dallas. He and Nancy Lee-Borden, his wife of 48 years, have 3 adult children and 7 grandchildren."

 Excerpt from the Book:

Antenna thrust before him like a wiry erection, Lyle Gustafson jumps downed trees, flails brambles, and leaps a snarl of brush. We’re trying to keep up—the young guy with the video camera, the woman with her long blond hair peeking from her cap, and I with my gimpy leg. The forest drips from the recent cold rain, and our boots skid in the soggy burgundy and ochre leaves. Lyle’s yelling, Rudy! Rudy!

Lyle’s in the clearing, dancing with Rudy, the black bear he raised from a cub. Rudy’s on his hind legs, moving in little steps, beating a rhythm with his feet, and Lyle mimics the steps, he does a kind of bear jig, and they wave their arms as if they’re trying to hug each other but are shy, and I wish I could hear the music they’re dancing to.

The young guy from the TV station is loaded with equipment, bags slung over both shoulders, bandoliers criss-crossing his chest. He shoots some long shots—Get the woods, the context, the woman says—then he moves in closer, but now Rudy and Lyle seem tired of dancing. Rudy’s on all fours rummaging around and Lyle’s squatting nearby talking to him, telling him how much he’s missed him and he’s a hell of a good bear and how’s he been making out, did he find enough grubs and acorns and berries?