Issue #172: Goodbye, Bear

The first thing that drew me to E.B. Lyndon’s “Goodbye, Bear” was the voice.  It felt fresh and modern and full of energy, and I loved the wit, intelligence and humor, as well as the fast-paced dialogues that battered back and forth like a game of tennis on speed. But it was the character of Blago—that Skype-loving, clarinet-playing, plane-fearing boyfriend in the story who won me over for good. How can someone so initially repellent become so damn charming? As the pages turned, he began to remind me of Ignatius from John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces, and like that extraordinary novel, “Goodbye Bear” is about how hard it can be to truly connect with each other, especially these days, as we fall away from religion, connect more online than in person, and have lost the social pressure to marry or have children before we are, say, 40. It’s no wonder that  the narrator of “Goodbye, Bear” finds herself at a spiritual crossroads when it comes to love.  Throw in a family wedding, and the resulting sparks as she parries with Blago and navigates her inner life are at turns hilarious and emotionally resonating. Be sure to visit Lyndon’s Q&A where she talks about the inspiration behind this piece, and the writing advice George Saunders gave her that made all the difference.

6 thoughts on “Issue #172: Goodbye, Bear

  1. Pingback: E. B. Lyndon: “Goodbye, Bear” from One Story #172, 12/4/12 | A Just Recompense

  2. Really enjoyed the story, love the characters and the complexity. Was a bit confused by the dialogue from time to time, trouble following which character was speaking? but overall an excellent read. I really like the smart-assedness of the main character. I love smart, sexy women and am drawn towards damaged. Thanks for the entertainment. Wish I was deep enough to comprehend.

  3. What’s up with the use of the phrase “free range” as on page 15 “an infant given free range”? Is it meant to be a subtle joke on the author’s part, comparing children with chickens or something? Or is it used to express the quirky voice of the protagonist? Does the author understand the term “free range”? Does the editor? It reads like the author meant to say “free rein.”

  4. I was not a fan of this story. I thought Lyndon did a nice job of achieving a consistent, authentic voice, which is difficult and requires talent and practice. I applaud that aspect of the story. However, I felt like it wandered through the protagonist’s issues and tried to hit on too many psych and social issues all at once, which gave the story a forced feeling. I also felt dissatisfied with the ending.

  5. Snappy comic dialogue, sustained as it is in “Goodbye, Bear,” feels effortless enough to take for granted. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to get right. (Death is easy; comedy is hard.) Lyndon does her rivals in the field one better, though. Unlike John Kennedy O’Toole (mentioned in the interview), she gives me reasons to care. There’s gravity in Bam’s fecklessness–and in Blago’s pain, too. Thanks to the author for a fine read.

  6. yes, I loved the way the you structured the story, with only a limited introduction and then you dived into the dialogue, bouncing back and forth between scenes. The only way such dialogue works (I think) is when it’s just damned witty. Too damned witty. Gorgeous story. I’m depressed that I can’t talk like that.

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