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Bow Grip

Bow Grip

By Ivan Coyote
Categories: Fiction
Paperback : 9781551522135, 224 pages, 2006
Read Excerpt (PDF)


Winner of the ReLit Award for Best Novel
Shortlisted for the Ferro-Grumley Award for Women's Fiction
An American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book

Ivan E. Coyote is acclaimed as one of North America's most beguiling storytellers; Ivan's honest, down-to-earth tales, many of which are based on personal experience, are compelling for their simple human truths. Ivan's 2005 story collection, Loose End, was also shortlisted for the prestigious Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction.

Bow Grip, Ivan's long-awaited first novel, is a breathtaking story about love and loneliness, and the long road one must travel between them. Joey is a good-hearted, fortysomething mechanic from small-town Alberta whose wife has recently left him for another woman. When a stranger named James approaches his shop and agrees to purchase a beat-up blue Volvo in exchange for a beautiful, hand-crafted cello, Joey sees it as an opportunity to finally make some overdue changes in his life.

But some troubling suspicions about James, and a desire to close the door on his failed marriage, compels Joey to hit the road and travel to Calgary, the big city by the Bow River. He stations himself at a rundown motel, where he struggles to learn how to play the cello, and strangers with their own complicated pasts--an older gay man, a single mother--become confidants. With quiet authority, Bow Grip is about one man's real rite of passage--trying to keep the ghosts of personal history at bay with a heart that's as big as the endless prairie sky.

German-language rights sold to Verlag Krug & Schadenberg

Now in its third printing


  • Winner, ALA Stonewall Honor Book 2007
  • Winner, ReLit Award 2007
  • Short-listed, Ferro-Grumley Award for Women's Fiction 2007


Coyote is an important new voice, blending a keen sense of gay identity and community with a refreshing appreciation for the goodness at the heart of some straight people.
Out magazine

An ode to the value of change and staying awake to possibilities, and a moving illustration of how chance unfortunate events can transform into the marvelous. -Calgary Herald

A page-turner that also mirrors the intricacies of life. . . . Coyote shows how two worlds often collide and combine -- how something beautiful can come of disaster. -Xtra!

The effortless ebb and flow of Coyote's lucid prose distinguish her as a robust storyteller, unfraid to expose and delve into her characters' personal demons and life struggles. This makes for a resonant and significant reading experience. A finalist for the 2007 Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction, Coyote's debut novel is a remarkable accomplishment. Don't overlook this engaging stunner. -Bay Area Reporter

A heartfelt, amusing page-turner with characters recognizable from the working-class walk of life. -TheTyee. ca

Compelling and honest. ... Bow Grip explores intimacy and its limits, and discovers that those limits may be similar for everyone, regardless of whether they are strangers or family. -Herizons

An unexpectedly moral tale with an undercurrent of humour and irony that is irresistible. ... This first novel mimics her short stories in its quiet pacing, unassuming narrative and straightforward language. She has mastered the smalltown psyche without a single false note. ... Coyote may have revived something literature has desperately needed for a while: the truly decent hero. -The Globe and Mail

(Starred review) In this story of an everyman rediscovering that life is special, Coyote is telling all our stories, and it's impossible to read the novel without feeling like the author has been sneaking around behind us observing the way we live and the way we think. ... Keep your eyes on this writer. -Booklist

Ivan E. Coyote is a natural-born storyteller. ... This book presents a compelling, positive image of just what manhood can be. -Rabble. ca

One of Billy Wilder's rules for writing was, "Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go. " Ivan Coyote has a gentler approach. In her first novel, just as in her wonderful stories, she sits you down, takes you by the hand, and draws you in with humour, grace, insight, compassion, and conversational ease. Hers are the welcoming, confiding gifts of the kitchen table storyteller, and Bow Grip will bring many more friends into her circle. -Bill Richardson

After three acclaimed story collections, Coyote has written her first novel, a character-driven charmer. ... This graceful novel's storytelling strength comes from the compassionate interactions of the warmly authentic characters. -San Francisco Bay Times