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Macbears of Bearloch
Macbears of Bearloch
Richard Bauckham
Aultbea Publishing Company, 2005
96 pp.,

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Stephen N. Williams

Finding Your MacBearings

Excuse me, which way to the well at the world's end? If you are like C.S. Lewis, the question—;even when sprung at you in such prosaic fashion—;will send a pleasant shiver down your spine. But never mind that: what is the answer? North—;surely we can allow nothing else—;north. Both Lewis and William Morris, author of The Well at the World's End, were captivated by the romance and the myths of the North. (It may be less well known that Morris took a step beyond the world's end with a novella, The Wood Beyond the World, which describes some southward trekking that appears nonetheless to be going on out there somewhere in the north or northwest.) And what do you find there? Bears. Not only bears, but certainly bears. Morris told us about them in the 19th century. Now The MacBears of Bearloch have been discovered up north too. Not the least interesting aspect of this discovery—;and one reason why we draw it to readers' attention—;is that they have been discovered by one of the finest biblical and theological scholars around, usually on the trail of such things as apocalypses and pseudepigrapha, in a more easterly than northerly direction from where I'm standing. The front cover will not, but the spine will tell you that the person in question is Richard Bauckham.

The blurb says it adequately. These bears "live beside a secret loch in the forgotten lands of the north." What are they up to? Not enough, according to Grampa MacBear. It is bad enough, of course, to think, let alone say, that; indeed, fatal in a children's story. Consequently things start happening. While land masses move mysteriously and sea creatures transmute amazingly, a kidnapping takes place. This, we might suppose, is the heart of the tale; but not quite. Set the scene; create an expectation; take the reader off on another trail while he or she is already in a state of low alert; keep him or her subconsciously waiting, perhaps forgetting, while you convert low alert to ...

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