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On the road to TeleTownBear v Sharkby Chris Bachelder251pp BloomsburyGiven a relatively level playing field - ie water deep enough so that a Shark could manoeuvre proficiently but shallow enough so that a Bear could stand and operate with its characteristic dexterity - who would win in a fight between a bear and a sharkThis is the question around which the minimal action of Chris Bachelders first novel Bear v Shark is constructed His characters also pretty minimal are Mr and Mrs Norman and their two sons Matthew and Curtis Curtis has won an Americawide essay contest on the set topic of Bear v Shark His prize An expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas to witness the biggest of big fights Bear v Shark II The Sequel Surf against Turf Lungs v Gills in the neon desertChris Bachelder to give you a quick indication of the kind of author he is includes two other non-winning essays one by The Last Folksinger the other by CH Bachelder He also includes while at the same time getting the Norman family out of bed into the sports utility vehicle and on the road to Vegas an entire Bear v Shark-related culture television specials talk radio shows opinion polls a pornsite wwwbearnakedcom a breakfast cereal a parenting guide How to Talk to Your Children about Bear v Shark a quiz and an indexBeing this kind of author he also includes critiques of his subject matter Food Mart Food Mart Food Mart A nation of snacks and gas Its the end of geography the end of the road novel Just try advancing a plot along the US roadways Of himself Dont you think the author lying in the dark often wishes he had written a more serious and questing book With penetrating insights into the human heart Of his readership complacent and politically impotentWhat is most striking about Bachelders diagnosis of the ills of American culture is how old-fashioned his new
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