Book #39: That’s Not My Monkey
Have you ever lost something that had a deeply personal, almost indescribable, meaning to you?
We’ve all been there at some point, right? It’s an item of great value, a loved one, a job, maybe even a finger or an earlobe.
What about a monkey? Have you ever lost your monkey?
If so, you’ll relate with the intense passion of the protagonist in That’s Not My Monkey. The unnamed protagonist—reminiscent of Graham Green’s unnamed protagonist in The Power and the Glory—knows exactly how you feel.
In pursuit of his (or her?) prized possession, a friendly, hairy monkey, he (or she?) dives into a subtly complicated game of trial and error. Around each corner, he (or she?) finds a monkey—a monkey that could easily be mistaken for his (or her?) own.
It’s a torturous game. No, this monkey’s feet are too smooth! And, no, that monkey’s tongue is too fuzzy! It’s as if Gollum were placed in a house of mirrors with fake rings around every corner. Oh, the frustration!
The protagonist, though, moves onward without ever losing hope of eventually finding this prized monkey. This monkey is the water that will quench the protagonist’s thirst—the spring of hope that must be found again. I haven’t seen such determination in a fictional character since Atticus Finch.
At the risk of providing a spoiler, I’ll simply tell you that I think you’ll like how this story ends.
The author, Fiona Watt, paints a dramatic portrait of discovery on many levels. Without beating you over the head with metaphor, Watt illustrates this presumably young protagonist’s search for him or herself through a Tolkienesque search for this monkey.
The prose, though simple, is cutting and quick to the point. It reminds me of Hemingway in his prime.
That’s not my monkey. Its eyebrows are too hairy.
But That’s Not My Monkey is about more than just prose. This book is a sensory experience. The pictures, and the “touch and feel” aspect of this book really take it into the experimental, avant garde realm of the masters: Joyce, Faulkner, Kerouac.
As you read about one monkey’s velvety tail, you can reach out and touch the velvety tail. Or the pony with the fluffy tummy? Yes, you can reach out and feel the soft pleasure of that monkey’s tummy. Oh the joy.
Though I’m generally not a fan of experimental works, I find this novel captivating. The only thing That’s Not My Monkey is missing is a complimentary box of popcorn. Because, when you sit down to read this book, you’re in for an experience unlike any other.
Trust me on this one.
The Opening Line: “That’s not my monkey. Its tail is too velvety.”
The Meaning: The beauty of this book is its layers. Is this protagonist searching for his monkey or himself? Does the monkey truly represent a monkey or his unclaimed future? Can eternal meaning be found in our relationships with the animal kingdom?
Highlights: The prose is absolutely brilliant. It astounds. The “touchy-feely” pictures only add to the dramatics of the story. You’ll feel like you’re inside the book itself. That’s Not My Monkey is so effective it’s almost sensory overload.
Lowlights: At only 10 pages, I wanted more. This book teases you, brings you to the precipice of sheer joy, and closes the door on you. Bam! I needed one more page. Only one more page.
Memorable Line: “That’s my monkey! It’s tummy is so fluffy.”
Final Thoughts: Stop what you’re reading right now, including this blog post, and read this book. You’ll be a better person for it.
Final, Final Thoughts: Surely you’ve guessed by now that this is an April Fool’s joke! See you tomorrow!