Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear [NOOK Book]

Overview

A 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing along Alaska’s Kenai and Russian rivers, a grizzly came tearing around a corner in the trail. Dan barely had time for “bear charging” to register before it had him on the ground, altering his life forever.

 

“Upper nose, eyes, forehead anatomy unrecognizable,” as ...

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Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear

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Overview

A 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing along Alaska’s Kenai and Russian rivers, a grizzly came tearing around a corner in the trail. Dan barely had time for “bear charging” to register before it had him on the ground, altering his life forever.

 

“Upper nose, eyes, forehead anatomy unrecognizable,” as the medevac report put it.

 

Until then, one thing after another had fallen into place in Dan’s life. He had a job he loved taking troubled kids on outdoor excursions. He had just bought a cabin high in the Chugach Mountains with a view that went on forever. He was newly in love. After a year of being intrigued by a woman named Amber, they had just spent their first night together. All of this was shattered by the mauling that nearly killed him, that left him blind and disfigured.

 

Facing paralyzing pain and inconceivable loss, Dan was in no shape to be in a relationship. He and Amber let each other go. Five surgeries later, partway into his long healing journey, they found their way back to each other. The couple’s unforgettable story is one of courage, tenacious will, and the power of love to lead the way out of darkness. Dan Bigley’s triumph over tragedy is a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical and emotional devastation, to choose not just to live, but to live fully. Visit Dan Bigley's site or Beyond the Bear.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 2003, outdoor-loving Bigley nearly lost his life in a savage bear attack in Alaska, the gory details of which are difficult to read. The animal not only bit but actually chewed on Bigley’s head. The horrific injuries, which claimed his eyesight, required multiple surgeries to repair. This moving memoir of his experiences, coauthored with journalist McKinney, is more about Bigley’s emotional recovery and beyond-impressive triumph over adversity. Although his very survival was in doubt after the mauling, Bigley manages to weather the painful aftermath and the blow of learning that his sight is gone forever, thriving in the end. He completed a master’s program in social work with straight-A grades, and now works as a director of therapeutic foster care, overseeing 60 homes. The woman who was his girlfriend at the time of the attack is now his wife, and mother of their two children. Readers will appreciate Bigley’s inspirational and well-written story. Agent: Elizabeth Evans, the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Booklist
[A] richly detailed, emotional memoir . . . his story inspires and sticks with you long beyond the final page. . . .A well-written and touching tribute to human resilience.
From the Publisher
"This book is surprising in so many ways - heartfelt, funny, buoyant, tragic and triumphant - that after awhile I wanted to do nothing else but read it and be inspired and enthralled. And so I was."—Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak and Visions of a Wild America "Combine a man shaped by an extraordinary experience with a writer adept at weaving the threads of his story and the result is a stunningly powerful book. Beyond the Bear may compel you to worry less about all the bad things that could happen in life and focus instead on embracing its possibilities. You might as well buy extra copies for you will soon want to give others the gift of this insightful and riveting read." —Jill Fredston, author of Rowing to Latitude and Snowstruck "Beyond the Bear delivers in gut-wrenching detail the harrowing account of one of the most horrific bear attacks in recent Alaskan memory, but the book is so much more than a bear mauling. Beyond the Bear is a powerful love story and an unforgettable tale of hope and resilience, a triumph of the human spirit in the darkest of hours. A life destroyed in a blinding flash of blood and fur. A bright and beautiful Alaskan landscape seemingly darkened forever, the midnight sun all but extinguished, yet Dan Bigley's courage and heart take us all beyond the bear and along the way we all learn to see the world in a new and beautiful light." —Don Rearden, award-winning author of The Raven's Gift "Beyond the Bear is far more than another 'bear chew' book; it's a compelling, finely crafted tale of survival and redemption, a worthy addition to Alaska literature."—Nick Jans, author of The Grizzly Maze and A Wolf Called Romeo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762793105
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/21/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 280,735
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Dan Bigley grew up in Ohio, California, and Malaysia, where he took up with an acrobatic hip-hop dance troupe and got a black belt in Taekwondo at 14. While earning a degree in natural history and a minor in environmental education at Arizona’s Prescott College, he spent several months a year living out of a backpack. Dan has ways felt the most at home in wild, quiet places. He loved sharing the magic of the natural world with the kids he guided on wilderness trips throughout his college years and beyond. He dreamed of starting his own outdoor school someday.

   Dan’s need to go where roads are rare drew him to Alaska, where things started falling into place for him. The last few months he could see, he had the most challenging and rewarding job he’d ever had, taking emotionally disturbed kids on outings for Alaska Children’s Services.

   Losing his eyes meant giving up much of what he loved. Upon rethinking his future, he decided to go for a master’s degree in social work. As a newly blind graduate student, he felt at times like he was climbing El Capitan in flip-flops. He not only got through it, including Statistics, which couldn’t be more visual, he graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. He was hired a week later as a clinician for Denali Family Services, a nonprofit counseling center in Anchorage for emotionally disturbed children and their families. A year later, he was promoted to director of foster care for DFS, the largest therapeutic foster-care provider in the state.  

In 2008, the Governor’s Committee on Employment and Rehabilitation for People With Disabilities presented Dan with its Alaskan of the Year Award. Prescott College honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award that same year, and in 2010, a Desert Star Award, which recognizes alumni carrying forward the Prescott mission.

     Dan and his wife, Amber Takavitz Bigley, and their two young children, Alden and Acacia, live in Anchorage. When Dan’s not working or on active dad duty, he’s playing guitar or the stock market. He studies yoga and Tai Chi. And he fishes every chance he gets.

 

 Debra McKinney is a fourth generation journalist, born into a family tradition that began when her great-grandmother bought the Hillsboro Argus in Hillsboro, Ore., in 1904. Once Debra got her journalism degree, it was assumed she’d add her name to the masthead of the family paper. She took off for Alaska instead, where she staked mining claims and worked as a surveyor and a cook at remote, helicopter-supported, mineral exploration camps, and where she encountered her first bear, alone, armed with a saucepan inside a dark Quonset hut.

    As a long-time writer for the Anchorage Daily News, she found stories all over the state. She’s interviewed surfers at a secret, fly-in surf spot along the Gulf of Alaska, mountaineers on Mount McKinley, whale researchers surrounded by orcas in Prince William Sound, and Eskimo elders preparing for a young girl’s “First Dance,” a coming-of-age potlatch that drew villagers from all over the region.

    Debra received numerous state and regional awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Pacific Northwest Society for Professional Journalism from the mid-1980s until leaving the paper in January 2010. She won the Pacific Northwest’s C.B. Blethen Memorial Award for distinguished feature writing in 1994, and that same year, the national $10,000 Dart Award for coverage of victims of violence. Excerpts from her story of three woman dealing with incest, and an interview with her, appear in Covering Violence: A Guide to Ethical Reporting About Victims and Trauma, by Roger Simpson and William Cote, published by Columbia University Press, 2000.

    Debra was also part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for the People in Peril series on alcoholism and despair among Alaska Native people. Her story, “Youth’s Despair Erupts,” was among the handful chosen from the 10-day series for Pulitzer Prizes: 1989, a Touchstone Book. It was also the only story from the Pulitzer series reprinted in the “Press” section (along with selections from Jimmy Breslin, Anna Quindlen, and Mike Royko) of Popular Writing in America: The Interaction of Style and Audience, fifth edition, published by the Oxford University Press, 1993.

    Debra lives in Palmer, AK, with her teacher husband, Paul Morley. In summer, they live at their off-the-grid cabin up north, an oasis of simplicity powered by sun and wind, where they garden, smoke fish, and do some serious hammock time.

 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2013

    I enjoy reading true survival tales. This book was so exciting,

    I enjoy reading true survival tales. This book was so exciting, I read it straight through. I visited Alaska wilds and witnessed its raw dangerous yet beautiful experience. I had my own encounter with bears, and could really feel how things could have ended different for me. There are tales of fishing to satisfy the sports minded, there are adventures to satisfy the physically fit and adventurous, there is a sensation you are stepping into the untamed beauty Alaska has to offer, and romance to satisfy a woman. I have been recommending this book to my family and friends, and hope many other people experience this terrifically written book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2013

    Dan Bigley's story is incredible and Debra McKinney's writing is

    Dan Bigley's story is incredible and Debra McKinney's writing is amazing--the two together create one phenomenal memoir. I was glued to the book the moment I got it, finishing it in two sittings and only putting it down to sleep. I was breathless to know what happened, and  both laughed and cried countless times as I whipped through the pages. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys love stories, survival stories, natures stories, inspirational stories... basically, anybody. There is so much of value "beyond the bear"--it's a book worth pondering, rereading and passing around to friends and family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2014

    Bearclan warrior's den

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  • Posted May 17, 2013

    Very Inspiring

    This is way more than a tale about a bear attack. The trials and tribulations as Dan deals with his new life situation are inspiring. His refusal to let this devastating injury take him away from the things he enjoyed in life should be motivation to us all. The way Bigley and McKinney weave in the viewpoints of the others involved in the attack, rescue and recovery makes for a riveting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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