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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Lynn Schooler lives on a small boat in Alaska and makes his living safely guiding photographers, nature enthusiasts, and scientists through storm-prone waterways strewn with icebergs, across precarious, unstable fjords and dense northern forests. A loner partly by nature, partly by habit, Schooler becomes lost in mourning after a string of devastating events, his emotional isolation suddenly running parallel to that of his lifestyle.
The Blue Bear is Schooler's homage to Michio Hoshino, a Japanese photographer whose friendship helped Schooler reemerge from his self-imposed isolation. The outlining story is that of a wilderness guide and a photographer who endeavor to find the elusive glacial bear, often referred to as the Blue Bear because of the metallic sheen of its silvery fur. But this is merely a plot point for a greater allegory that disentangles the tendrils of human relations and illuminates the wondrous natural cycle of ebb and flow, death and rebirth.
Hoshino teaches Schooler by example, and both his life and his tragic death hold the bittersweet but invaluable lesson that reaffirms Schooler's belief in the interdependence of all things. Schooler is a philosopher with a poetic bent, one capable of elucidating the inexorable bonds between man and nature in a gentle, unfettered prose. As he ruminates over the loss of his dear friend, Schooler recounts, "I am diminished by the sight of the glacier and all it had accomplished -- carving mountains and valleys with its comings and goings, rearranging entire worlds made of stone.... And feeling this, I felt a great contentment warm my blood." Reading The Blue Bear, you will also share in that warmth. (Ann Kashickey)