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“Mister Monkey” surprised me, chapter by chapter, with its charm, insights and warmth.
The novel focuses on a low-budget, low-quality off-Broadway production of a children’s musical play, “Mister Monkey.” Each chapter focuses on one character, sometimes an actor, sometimes a backstage worker, sometimes an audience member. Francine Prose weaves all these small lives together in a way that makes you feel for their efforts and their longings. Many of the characters were obnoxious on the surface, but sensitive and concerned in their thoughts. And there are serious themes throughout, never overplayed, including thoughts on Darwin and evolution, colonialism, animal rights and global warming. One amusing scene involves a kindergarteners’ debate over the roles of monkeys and dinosaurs in evolution.
“Mister Monkey” reminded me of other enjoyable books that slide among the points of view of weird but likeable characters in interrelated chapters, like the wonderful “Skippy Dies” (kids and teachers at a Dublin boarding school) and “Capital” by John Lanchester (residents of a London street in the financial crisis).
Kirby Heyborne is a favorite narrator who often captures the voices of younger characters with a sense of wonder. Nan McNamara also read well.
Overall, a remarkable book.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Mister Monkey is a life journey of carefully-crafted characters. Each wandering through their own humanity, love and growth.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful