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The Bear in a Muddy Tutu

The Bear in a Muddy Tutu

4.7 18
by Cole Alpaugh

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Lennon Bagg's daughter has been stolen away by his ex-wife, and he's just learned the newspaper he reports for is bankrupt. While on his final assignment, Bagg knocks a policeman unconscious to save the life of a runaway circus bear, and suddenly finds himself responsible for a band of stranded roustabouts who've pitched their tents on a small island along the New


Lennon Bagg's daughter has been stolen away by his ex-wife, and he's just learned the newspaper he reports for is bankrupt. While on his final assignment, Bagg knocks a policeman unconscious to save the life of a runaway circus bear, and suddenly finds himself responsible for a band of stranded roustabouts who've pitched their tents on a small island along the New Jersey shore. Eight hundred miles away, a young girl searches for her dead father on the beaches of Bermuda. Dead people, after all, become birds--a theory she derived from her mother's explanation that when you die, you grow wings and fly away. A hapless cult leader and the sulking newspaper reporter hatch a plan to save the circus, which includes a plane ride into the Bermuda Triangle accompanied by a man who holds the record for being struck by lightning. And it's starting to cloud up ... /In THE BEAR IN A MUDDY TUTU, hope is something vigorously avoided because it usually means someone is about to be run over by a speeding car.

Product Details

Camel Press
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Barnes & Noble
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411 KB

Meet the Author

Cole Alpaugh’s newspaper career began in the early 80s, starting with small daily papers in Maryland and Massachusetts, where his stories won national awards. His most recent job was at a large daily in Central New Jersey, where his "true life" essays included award-winning pieces on a traveling rodeo and an in-depth story on an emergency room doctor that was nominated by Gannett News Service for a 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Cole also did work for two Manhattan-based news agencies, covering conflicts in Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Thailand and Cambodia. His work has appeared in dozens of magazines, as well as most newspapers in America. Cole is currently a freelance photographer and writer living in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he also coaches his daughter’s soccer team.

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The Bear in a Muddy Tutu 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
james242242 More than 1 year ago
Came across this title from a Google search of circus related books. Recent reads include The Circus in Winter, Spangle, Water for Elephants, The Electric Michelangelo, and Geek Love. Although I loved WFE, The Bear in a Muddy Tutu might be the one I remember the most. Gruen's WFE is more polished, which could be attributed to the size of the publisher. I've never heard of Coffeetown, but kudos to their acquisition editor for landing this one. There is a rawness in Alpaugh's writing that reminds me of some of the edgy short story writers I loved in college. Where Gruen tells, Alpaugh shows. In TBIAMT, there's a scene where a bumbling cult leader named Billy Wayne has taken over the traveling circus and gives his first address to the workers, or roustabouts. The point of view, though, is that of a wrench monkey-type who sometimes sympathizes with what his new boss is saying, but mostly drifts off on a succession of short tangents about a opossum Thanksgiving dinner with his alcoholic father and the dead dog he misses dearly. All the while, the character is practicing his own circus trick of slowly becoming invisible, an art form he uses to avoid work and any trouble. The writing is flat out great. I have now cried while reading Racing in the Rain and The Bear in a Muddy Tutu in the same week. Maybe I'm getting to be an old softy, but TBIAMT is one of those books I won't let off my shelf because I plan to read it again. If you have a dark sense of humour and like your stories edgy, this is a must read. Bear trumps elephants.
FrannyReads More than 1 year ago
Vulgar and beautiful is how I'd sum up this book. I've read at least one novel a week for the last 20 years and this one is the hardest to describe. Two stories run parallel; a kidnapped child and the survival of a stranded traveling circus. The mixture of allegory is incredibly haunting. One example being when the main character is the sole survivor of a plane crash, clinging to a seat cushion in the middle of a raging storm at sea, while wise-ass talking birds taunt him with brilliant dialogue. This story reminded me of Life of Pi, but it's even better written, with not a single wasted word. When the dancing bear discovers the butterfly on the marsh, I wept for the beauty of the images and the language. My eyes are tearing up right now as I think about it. Truly one of the top four or five books I've ever read. Highly recommend!
elainemarieAZ More than 1 year ago
After reading Water for Elephants I found Bear in a Muddy Tutu. I loved both, but I like the more contemporary feel of this novel. Both are dark and sad, but I felt like I was getting a lesson in train circus life with Water for Elephants. I read that the author made a bunch of trips to circus museums and I would rather be carried away by a story than have a writer try and impress me with minutia. The Bear in a Muddy Tutu is pure story and fabulously written. I loved every character, even the totally unlovable ones. Warning for younger readers because of a sex scene and harsh language. The magic of this book is for grownups.
Dannyboy1970 More than 1 year ago
This is only the fourth book to ever move me to take the time for a review, but I had to tell someone besides my coworkers. As if Joseph Heller and Hunter Thompson rose from the grave and joined the circus. I'm otherwise left shaking my head and laughing. It's as if Mr. Alpaugh wrote with a paint brush. This might be one of my favorite books ever.
tessaTHEcontessa More than 1 year ago
Our small book club just finished this book and I've never heard such diverse opinions. I liked it a lot and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. Harsh at times and not for kids younger than 15 or 16, IMO. Great writing and a unique story.
ALEX_READS_IT_ALL More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up after reading reviews comparing it to Water for Elephants. I enjoyed Water for Elephants and have recommended it to friends, but there really is no comparison between these books. Where I sometimes nodded off during some parts of Water for Elephants, The Bear in a Muddy Tutu hammers your senses relentlessly. You're either sad, disgusted, laughing, or doing all at the same time. This book makes you dizzy in a good way. And I may never drink alcohol again.
Romance_Author More than 1 year ago
A deftly written story driven by raw and vivid characters and rich with evocative language and colorful descriptions. With every page another layer is peeled back as this fascinating, magical tale unfolds--sad or humorous, but always thoughtful. Alpaugh's writing does not rely on cheap tricks or predictable plot points, but slowly pulls you in and compels you to stick around for a while. Rest assured, in The Bear in a Muddy Tutu, you will constantly be surprised by what happens next.
Sharon_Buk More than 1 year ago
The Bear in a Muddy Tutu was a recommended new arrival at our library, but it was out and I couldn't wait. I was a big fan of Water for Elephants, so I just had to read it. It is magic and trippy and I couldn't put it down. The last line made me cry for more than one reason.
ReganLeigh More than 1 year ago
I actually reviewed Cole's book early on for my blog. (Disclaimer: I am his writing partner and friend, so yes I may be biased. Then again, I would only want the best for a writing partner.) Here are some of the comments I made on my blog. The entire review is too long to paste here. - I loved Cole's writing voice from day one and I knew immediately that he'd be published. And soon. Just ask him. I was annoyingly optimistic and pushy. - Reading The Bear in a Muddy Tutu is like running away with the circus. You won't regret the emotional ride or the fantastic people you meet, but you might regret not getting to stay longer. (This comment was used by his publishing house.) - There is an undertone of sadness during the happy scenes and a sense of joy even beneath the most tear-jerking parts of the book. I don't mean to say his writing is contradictory. It's layered. And it's beautiful. - He's very sensory in his descriptions. This is great for someone like myself who is extremely visual. - The Bear in a Muddy Tutu has a realistic edge, with magical elements and raw descriptions. Nothing is held back and trust is established immediately. So basically... I loved it. It won't disappoint. ;)
Not_Tina_fey More than 1 year ago
I adored every page of this book. A beautiful tale about people who aren't all that beautiful. I highly, highly, highly recommend+++++ to anyone who likes their books on the weird side.
TSWondergirl More than 1 year ago
I deducted a star because I wanted to know more in the end. I felt I was missing out, but not a huge deal. I'm not a fan of authors who don't know when to write THE END, so maybe it's being nitpicky. The story and the writing are beautiful. I hope to find more from this author, preferably in this same genre - the sort of free-flow writing which grabs hold of you and doesn't want to let go.
DanaTay More than 1 year ago
Graceful Gracie and the lost little girl were my favorite characters. I really loved everything about this book and didn't want it to end. The magician's assistant story about the butterfly reminded me of a story my mom used to tell me at bedtime. I dare anyone to read this book and not cry. Dana.
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RosaGuard More than 1 year ago
This story is sad and magical. I loved it a lot!
MorningJoeFan33 More than 1 year ago
Picked this up right after reading Jim Harrison's The Farmer's Daughter and boy did I need the laugh. There's a good lesson for any gold digging women to make sure he's dead before shoveling dirt on his grave. This one's a keeper.
HiArisawa More than 1 year ago
This book is like a dream that is sometimes painful and sometimes wonderful. I did not intend on reading it in one sitting, but could not stop. Sometimes I wanted to stop because of sadness. I liked this book very much.
MarkeMark More than 1 year ago
Great story and great writing. Didn't expect to like it so much.