When you simply love reading as I do, your literary forays can take you in a multitude of directions. Many times, I know where a story is going to lead me, or at least the general direction we will travel in, before I start it. But sometimes a story just sits there, beckoning, and is the start of a journey into the unknown. This was the case when I opened “Help! A bear is eating me!” by Mykle Hansen.
The cover of the book bills this short novel as a tragic comedy. I agree with the comedy part yet the tragedy is questionable. The story opens with a man trapped beneath a Range Rover that is resting on his legs in the Alaskan wilderness and a bear is eating one of his feet, so it must be a tragedy. Then the reader learns a little more about the man, Marv Pushkin, and realizes that maybe he is only getting what he deserves.
Marv loves the car that is now crushing him. He loves money and power and the fact that he has both. He loves using his power to intimidate and to get what he wants (such as Marcia from Product Dialogue). What Marv does not love is a longer list: nature, pain, physical exertion, emotion, affection, and, above all else, Marv does not love his wife.
When the marketing team that Marv manages demanded a team-building exercise in Alaska, Marv finally agreed (partly due to a secondary plan he devised) and left the posh comfort of Seattle for the Alaskan wilderness. Marv’s plan goes wrong, however, and he starts home on his own when he gets a flat tire. Enter the bear and Marv finds himself alone, pinned under a vehicle, and slowly becoming bear food.
“Help! A bear is eating me!” is not a linear story as it is being told by Marv and the perspective of a man popping painkillers while being eaten by a bear as he is trapped beneath an SUV is not the clearest perspective. The sometimes vivid dreams (hallucinations?) add to the disjointedness of the narrative but ensure that the story is never boring. The novel is a fast-paced and entertaining read that draws the reader along for a wild ride. Hansen even throws in some social commentary that is sure to make a reader think about the price of greed. “Help! A bear is eating me!” can be read as a simple comedy but it will make the reader think if proper precautions against thought are not taken.