Bow Grip.


223 pages
ISBN 978-1-55152-213-6
DDC C813'.6





Reviewed by Lynne Perras

Lynne Perras is a communication arts instructor in the Faculty of
General Studies, University of Calgary.


Ivan E. Coyote is arguably one of Canada’s most colourful and talented young writers; at 38, she has written three collections of short stories and numerous articles, the majority of which have received a great deal of critical acclaim. With humour and honesty, her work explores the joys and challenges of being a lesbian and a Canadian in contemporary society. Her first novel is no less intriguing than her other work, and it marks the beginning of what will likely evolve into a successful literary career.


Bow Grip chronicles the story of Joey Cooper, a 40ish mechanic whose wife has recently left him to enter into a romance with another woman. Finding himself adrift in Drumheller, Alberta, he essentially retreats from life until he sells a car to a mysterious cowboy in return for a valuable cello. Once Joey learns that the car has been purchased to help the cowboy commit suicide, he decides to find the latter, who has left for Calgary. Joey’s physical journey to the big city slowly becomes an emotional and spiritual one as well as he finds not only the cowboy but friendship, love, and forgiveness. The protagonist’s attempt to master the cello becomes a metaphor for his efforts to understand and embrace the complicated relationships with his ex-wife and her lover, several mysterious friends, and potential romantic partners. Joey also learns that the power of forgiveness can lead to amazing and unexpected gifts, as he accepts his ex-wife’s rejection and comes to terms with his own inability to father a child. In addition, his realization of the power of love and the interrelatedness of all people help him become an active participant in the world once again.


Coyote writes using first person narration, and she captures the voice of a middle-aged man very well. Bow Grip moves at a quick pace and the reader is drawn into the lives and, ultimately, the fates of the characters. Some conflicts are resolved and loose ends are tied up a little too conveniently in places, and thus the story loses some of its appeal. Nonetheless, the novel is a fascinating read.


Coyote, Ivan E., “Bow Grip.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,