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Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop

Shelf Monkey (2007)

by Corey Redekop

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I loved this book. Thomas Friesen is the embodiment of every nerdy kid who dreams of growing up and kicking ass. The fact that he is from Winnipeg and carries out his revenge in Winnipeg is just icing on the cake for another nerd who lives in Winnipeg. And the cherry on top is that the author is another BookCrosser! Well done Corey!

Since, as a direct result of reading this book, I've added another pile of books that I absolutely must read, I've decided to do a wild release of it. The question is where??? Possibilties abound. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
I didn't know whether to laugh or shudder reading Corey Redekop's Shelf Monkey. So I did both.

The novel tells the tale of failed lawyer turned bookstore widget Thomas, who finds his soulmates in an eccentric group of fellow employees at hypermegabookstore READ. The only problem is they're more crazy than eccentric. They hold secret meetings where they burn offensive books -- you know, Michael Crichton, Candace Bushnell, the Left Behind series -- while assuming the monikers of beloved fictional characters. Oh, Corey, you had me at Yossarian. They have a particular hatred for a book club host called Munroe Purvis, who's sort of a sordid cross between Oprah and Morton Downey Jr. and whose book club selections represent everything wrong with western society -- imagine your grandmother's diaries turned into bestsellers, and you'll have an idea of what Purvis's book club represents.

Of course, Purvis isn't what he appears to be, and neither are many of Thomas's bookstore friends. Some of them turn out to be hiding deep secrets about the bookstore, while others are just plain dangerous in the way only geeks can be dangerous. When Purvis goes on tour and comes to town, the secrets and craziness collide as Thomas's friends set out to destroy Purvis, and the novel quickly moves from the Nick Hornby section of the bookstore to the Joseph Heller and Chuck Palahniuk table.

Redekop manages to keep his own voice throughout the novel, while winking, nodding and even raising a beer every now and then to literary culture. He name-drops authors more than a fourth-year English student, and he makes some literary traditions his own, such as adopting the epistolary novel and turning it into an email exchange while Thomas is on the run from the authorities. Even this is a bit of a literary joke for Redekop, though, as the recipient of his emails is Eric McCormack, a real-life Canadian author. At least I think he's a real-life Canadian author. I've never met him, and after reading Shelf Monkey I am beginning to wonder if he's a clever construct on the part of Redekop to flesh out the book.

Shelf Monkey is a literary thriller but it's also a fun romp -- unless, presumably, you're an Oprah fan. But if so, you're not Redekop's imagined audience. His ideal reader knows this book is blackly, blackly funny because it's all too true.

Full disclosure: Redekop gave one of my novels a fine review at his site, but I would have liked this book just as much anyway. ( )
2 vote peterdarbyshire | Nov 4, 2011 |
This is a very very funny novel. It has a rapid fire style which never seems to run out of ammunition aimed at best-sellers self-servingly hyped by high profile literary wanna-bes. The narrator is a likable fellow who loves to read and needs work so logically gets himself a job at a bookstore. Sounds rational, sane? Ahh, but there the rub begins. He meets some kindred spirits at the store and begins to make choices that most would consider unwise. If the narrator and the author have anything in common besides a wicked sense of humour Redekop should be firmly locked in a padded cell next to his favourite shelf monkey...although I hope that is not the case as I look forward to reading more of Redekop`s original wacky work. ( )
1 vote Scrat | Dec 1, 2009 |
Employees of a big-box bookstore band together to combat bad taste in books, and its avatar, one Monroe Purvis, a talk show host who uses his book club (and publishing company) to promote utterly vacuous books; hilarity ensues.

Shelf Monkey is both fun and funny. The fun is in Redekop's continual allusions and borrowings -- you will have to be fearsomely well read to spot them all, and I'm sure I missed many. and the funny, of course, is in his razor-sharp satire of an age where art is "content," to be sold as so much sausage filling.

It's tempting to see Monroe Purvis as a stab at Oprah Winfrey, but he's more than that. Oprah, as even Monroe Purvis points out, actually reads some good books; she's used her position to encourage people to read Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Carson McCullers, among others. Purvis is something else again. His publishing company churns out what you might call literary anti-matter, unredeemably vile books dripping with contempt not only for their readers, but for reading itself.

Shelf Monkey is a quick, light read, but not one that you'll easily forget.
3 vote ajsomerset | Sep 14, 2009 |
For starters, I usually prefer not to read books about our time. We live it. We are inundated with it. The news coverage is already overwhelming. The worse it gets out there, the more I long to reread Buddenbrooks.

However...occasionally a book overlaps so closely with my actual life that I not only bother reading it, I really enjoy reading it. (Wow - does that ever sound egocentric!)

Shelf Monkey is, delightfully, one of those. Although the narrator, megabookstore-employee Thomas Friesen, is almost painfully manic, his tastes, his book dreams and his book frustrations are similar to mine. I am even a bit of a shelf monkey myself, volunteering in a school library once a week. (Is anything more pathetic than a librarian wanna-be? We even inhabit the same loser-land.)

The premise of the book - bookstore staff jointly working up their frustrations to the point where they snatch an opportunity to attack a talk-show host cum purveyor of trash-fiction - is the set-up for a disquisition on the culture of reading as I guess is experienced by...dare I say it?...most, if not all LibraryThingers. The tone is hard and smart and funny. The story is sufficient unto itself - no padding. Hate padding!

I have promised to lend my copy to a few friends, but I really want to keep it close to hand, to track down the references to books that I couldn't get or re-read the ones that seem like they might bear new fruit. The whole book is like a conversation about books with a smart-ass friend.

And thus, in conclusion, Shelf Monkey rox!

Fun fact: I discovered Corey Redekop here on LibraryThing because I saw that he connected two books I love through Recommendations, and I looked at his profile only to discover he is a writer himself! Go LibraryThing! ( )
2 vote souci | Mar 28, 2009 |
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Beware the man of only one book.
For Cathy, who never left.

For Nikki, who left too soon.

For the monkeys, who won't leave me alone.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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ISBN-10: 1770900187 belongs to the 2015 Shropshire Calendar NOT Shelf Monkey. Entered by a Private Member, this can only be corrected by them.
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This was my first book
a labour of love and hate
I hope you like it

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Thomas Friesen has three goals in life: get a job, make friends, and find a good book to curl up with. After landing a job at READ, the newest hypermegabookstore, he feels he may have accomplished all three. All is not peaceable within the stacks, however, as discontent steadily rises, aimed squarely at talk show host Munroe Purvis, whose wildly popular book club is progressively lowering the IQ of North America. But the bookworms have a plan--plots are being hatched and the destruction of Munroe is all but assured. As Thomas finds himself swept along in the malstrom of insanity, he wonders if.… (more)

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