The back of Clifford Chase’s novel, Winkie, says that it’s a story about a bear that “wills himself to life and winds up on the wrong side of America’s War on Terror.” This does nothing to prepare you for what you’ll find within the pages of this book. I picked this up because it sounded too bizarre to ignore. It seemed so crazy that I found it interesting despite it’s connection to anything remotely political. I hate politics. But this was nothing like I thought it would be.
Winkie has almost nothing to do with America’s War on Terror, aside from the bear’s being suspected as a terrorist. It’s more or less as Oprah’s Magazine put it, “a hilarious parody of modern American justice, which in these pages is not only blind but dumb.” And indeed, during Winkie’s trial there are witnesses such as the three Witchcraft Accusing girls from the Crucible, a 24-year-old Chamber Maid who says she saw Winkie in her hotel 100 years ago, and even John the Apostle, who says Winkie was cast out of Heaven with all his disgraced angels.
The real story behind this book follows not only Winkie’s trial, as that’s mostly comical parody, but the perspective of a bear that spent years as a child’s plaything. This is a story of what it’s like to be a toy, one that is loved, hated, comforted, and cast aside. Winkie can’t help but love his children, it’s what he was created for, but you also see all the different emotions that Winkie experiences and his thoughts on that. It’s a very thought-provoking story.
Winkie is a very deep bear who ponders the nature of mankind. He questions why things must be the way they are and shows you, through an unknowing toy’s eyes, how it all looks objectively. It’s a very sad picture to those of us who live in the society that this book depicts. (Or at least it was for me.) I understood the questions Winkie asked and wondered the same things about why it all couldn’t change for the better.
While Winkie is in prison awaiting his trial and later between hearings, we see him remember his past. He begins with his first child, Ruth, and a time when Winkie was a girl bear named Marie. He begins to think and feel and be hurt by what he sees. Ruth grows up and has five children, and Winkie is passed down through these children. We only see Winkie’s time with Cliff, the youngest of Ruth’s children. Again, Winkie experiences hurt and betrayal and as always, love. He knows that sooner or later, Cliff will grow and leave him. Thus, Winkie ends up sitting on a shelf for years and years and years.
Finally, Winkie wishes he could be a real boy–er…bear. He comes into the ability to move and flings a book through the window and escapes. He then strives to become like a real animal. He heads for the mountains and lives in the wild. Soon Winkie discovers he is neither human nor animal but rather a creature stuck between two worlds. There’s a sad transition when Winkie goes through the losses he experiences in the woods. Ultimately, he comes back from his memories and finds hope and understanding in some of the strangest people.
The story is truly very touching. I did not expect what I got when I bought the book. I really didn’t think it would be as good as it turned out to be. Take a deeper look at the story while reading and then take a look at the world around you. You’ll see several truths about our society.
This is 4 outta 5 book. Read it!