Clifford Chase is the author of The Hurry-Up Song", a memoir, and the editor of Queer 13: Lesbian and Gay Writers Recall Seventh Grade.WINKIE is his first novel, and was inspired by the actual Winkie, who was passed down by the author's mother and is now at least eighty years old and quite mangy.
This debut novel from memoirist Chase (The Hurry-up Song) begins with the capture and wounding by a SWAT team of the eponymous, sentient teddy bear in a backwoods cabin; the team thinks it has captured a mad bomber. In jail, Winkie, who no one denies is a teddy bear, must contend with cruel jailers; his stuttering, court-appointed lawyer named Unwin; the 9,678 counts of everything from treason to witchcraft he's charged with; and the intersection of his life with that of the previous possessor of the cabin, an old humanities professor whose bombs never worked. While marking time, Winkie contemplates his past: his ownership by the Chase family, his loneliness when on a shelf , his magical awakening to life one morning-marked by a bowel movement so lovingly described that it recalls Bloom's in Ulysses. The sections devoted to Winkie's trial is a minor masterpiece of ridiculousness, in which the prosecution's move to end the trial after it has presented its side sounds uncomfortably close to what we read in the newspapers. This book is way too odd to be sentimental, and its political sensibility shuttles easily between the cartoonish and the shrewd. Chase puts himself in the same league as David Sedaris with this unclassifiable debut. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
'The emotional and moral torments of a teddy bear drive this surprisingly effective allegory of our terror-stricken times. This first novel...opens as if it were a parody of TV crime dramas, with a teddy bear named Winkie arrested by federal agents under charges of performing acts of Unabomber-like domestic terrorism. But this wacky setup is girded by sober, elegant writing that neatly balances both political and domestic themes ...The courtroom scenes are wildly, brilliantly comic--Winkie is charged with a list of felonies (including "Corrupting the youth of Athens") ... But Chase isn't just being cute here. Tinkering with the idea that a teddy bear is a repository for all our insecurities, he throws even our largest concerns at him: love, God, death, patriotism, racism, sexual identity and what it means to be human (or in Winkie's case, human-like) ... Chase makes this out-of-left-field story work brilliantly; a funny and sweet yet seriously topical novel.' -- Kirkus - Starred Review 'Winkie is a luminous achievement -- a magical, eccentric novel about the subversive imagination, and about the power of anarchic play. I recommend this book with the utmost enthusiasm and joy' -- Wayne Koestenbaum 'The sections devoted to Winkie's trial is a minor masterpiece of ridiculousness, in which the prosecution's move to end the trial after it has presented its side sounds uncomfortably close to what we read in the newspapers. This book is way too odd to be sentimental, and its political sensibility shuttles easily between the cartoonish and the shrewd. Chase puts himself in the same league as David Sedaris with this unclassifiable debut' -- Publishers Weekly - Starred review 'Winkie is a remarkable character, made vibrant and utterly convincing flesh (plush?) under Chase's masterful hand. This is a hauntingly beautiful, lovely and strange, funny and sly, surreptitiously moving book.' -- David Rakoff, author of Don't Get Too Comfortable 'Somewhere between Kafka's The Trial "and The Velveteen Rabbit "falls Winkie, an utterly original ode to innocence for a world that looks for scapegoats because it's easier than finding answers. Winkie, through his shiny brown glass orbs - and Clifford Chase, through those eyes and his own - sees us far more clearly than we see ourselves' -- Jean Nathan 'What Melville did for the whale, Chase has done for the teddy bear Winkie - made him immortal and forever locked in our imagination' -- Frederic Tuten, author of Tintin in the New World 'Clifford Chase has done the unthinkable: made me stay up till noon reading about a teddy bear. I'm seriously considering getting a Winkie tattoo, if I can just figure out where to put it' -- Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields 'Of all the anti-Bush books out there, none is as wonderfully strange as Chase's debut novel.' -- Entertainment Weekly 'No offense to the Velveteen Rabbit, but the eponymous hero of Clifford Chase's edgy and poetic debut novel about a love-worn teddy bear who comes to life is so profoundly and endearingly innocent that he leaves other toys in the dust ... A hilarious parody of modern American justice, which in these pages is not only blind but dumb.' -- Oprah Magazine 'A delicious first novel ... WINKIE manages at once to tap into the deep forests of literature, history, psychology, and science and to emerge as its own perfectly original specimen ... A case study in everything a novel should be.' -- Bookforum 'Clifford Chase's debut novel,WINKIE is the gripping and bizarre story of a teddy bear who gets involved in the war on terror. You will believe.' -- GQ 'Clifford Chase's mesmerizing novel details the fantastic voyage of Winkie the bear, a cross between Candide and the Velveteen Rabbit ... whose life as a gender-shifting object of affection is turned upside down by the modern day politics of fear.' -- Out Magazine 'In this wryly comic, paradoxically touching first novel, Chase delivers a cleverly original allegory on the absurdities of our terror-obsessed culture ... A masterfully measured social critique featuring a protagonist as endearing as any from the classics of childhood literature.' -- Booklist (starred review) 'If your teddy bear were brought to trial under charges of terrorism, what would the verdict be? That's the whimsical premise behindWINKIE . .. [and] the early buzz has been as sweet as honey.' -- Newsweek 'Humorous, intelligent and sad contemporary criticism, written in extraordinarily sensitive prose ... A novel of the most outstanding quality and originality.' -- VG (Norway), 6 stars out of 6 'If Animal Farm" were to bump into Monty Python" in a dark alley the result might be Winkie".' -- Herald Sun, Australia 'To describe Winkie as "a novel about a teddy bear who is accused of terrorism" is insufficient to the point of uselessness. Clifford Chase's bizarre, exhilarating, captivatingly creative, and extremely ridiculous first novel could be described as one or all of the following: memoir; sequel to The Velveteen Rabbit"; political allegory; alternate life history of Teddy from Steven Spielberg's A.I".; cautionary tale; prose poem; children's book; utter nonsense. Winkie is a toy bear, and Winkie is alive. Winkie talks, Winkie feels, Winkie poops. If, as a reader, you are prepared to deal with that premise--to welcome it into your heart--then read on. (If not, might we interest you in some Philip Roth, or perhaps an encyclopedia?) ... Winkie is a book best read for oneself. Winkie is far from perfect. Winkie is not for everyone. But Winkie is the most ambitious book of the year so far, and is therefore worth your time ... Grade A' -- Entertainment Weekly 'A hilariously inventive...kitchen-sink drama [that] reads both as War on Terror spoof and stark family epic. But what elevates Chase's work above simple cleverness is the magic of the prose itself, which derives beauty from all things.' -- Time Out Chicago 'Profound, heartfelt ... [and] a little weird.' -- Newsday 'Sounds weird, and it is, but so to is it wonderfully true. In a word: captivating.' -- Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin , Australia 'a wildly inventive satire of modern times' -- Sunday Herald Sun, Australia 'Remember the Y2K bug, how the next page of a calendar was going to bring planes down from the sky? Perhaps a teddy bear committing atrocities is not so strange. Clifford Chase has both the sense and imagination to work this scenario into a richer story ... Chase's achievement is to make Winkie seem more real than all the forces arrayed against him.' -- Sydney Morning Herald 'Ireally loved the book. You were right:I enjoyed the satirical bent,I thought it was clever and deft, and also the pictures made me laugh heartily. There was something particularly sweet about the one captioned: "The world, and his place in it, amazed him." i also loved "killer bear manufacturing facility (undisclosed location)" - it called to mind the last series of Arrested Development where the Bluth Corporation are accused of building in Iraq, but the supposed aerial photographs are of David Cross's testicles. Have you seen it? If not that last sentence will be utterly meaningless. Anyway, thank you again for a really wonderful book.' -- Lucy Porter 'Very funny' -- Boothby Graffoe 'Winkie is a luminous achievement -- a magical, eccentric novel about the subversive imagination, and about the power of anarchic play. I recommend this book with the utmost enthusiasm and joy' -- Wayne Koestenbaum 'Chase makes this out-of-left-field story work brilliantly; a funny and sweet yet seriously topical novel.' -- Kirkus Starred review 'Winkie is not for everyone. But Winkie is the most ambitious book of the year so far, and is therefore worth your time ... Grade A' -- Entertainment Weekly 'Winkie's trial is a minor masterpiece of ridiculousness, in which the prosecution's move to end the trial after it has presented its side sounds uncomfortably close to what we read in the newspapers... Chase puts himself in the same league as David Sedaris with this unclassifiable debut' -- Publishers Weekly 'I really loved the book ... I enjoyed the satirical bent, I thought it was clever and deft, and also the pictures made me laugh heartily.' -- Lucy Porter