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Mister Monkey: A Novel by Francine Prose

Mister Monkey: A Novel (edition 2016)

by Francine Prose (Author)

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1147105,887 (3.84)26
Title:Mister Monkey: A Novel
Authors:Francine Prose (Author)
Info:Harper (2016), 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Autographed, read

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Mister Monkey: A Novel by Francine Prose



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A literary trope (that I enjoy, I am not using the term negatively) is a story arranged around both a play and the actors involved in the play ([Hag-Seed] is a recent excellent example), in this case, Prose casts a wider net, to include not only the actors and director of this doomed play about an orphaned chimpanzee, but a few in the audience, the writer of the original book that was turned into a children's musical, a kindergarten teacher whose student attended the play . . . ripples that move outward and cross each other . . . and you wonder where is Prose going with this? And just about then, she begins to pull the net in. The first half of the novel, since it keeps moving to new characters was extra work, but the second half I read in one afternoon (luckily I had the time) and was fully absorbed. Prose is acutely observant and her humour is the dark and complicated kind, where you laugh and groan simultaneously, the best and worst in people hopelessly intertwined. **** ( )
  sibyx | May 15, 2017 |
Mister Monkey is the story of a group of actors in a off, off, off, way off broadway play of a children's play called Mister Monkey written by a Vietnam Vet. Filled with various people like Margot the the middle aged actress in a career going no where, Adam the adolescent actor/monkey who is abandoned by his father and terrified by his fears of the end of the world, Edward's grandfather who misses his deceased wife and loves his grandson and is alone in his old age, Edward the child who is mature for his age and just wants to go to school and feels bad for his teacher Sonya, Ray who wrote the play, Mario the waiter who goes to the theater every chance he gets, Lakshmi the Indian orphan costume designer wanna be playwright, Eleanor the full time register nurse and part time actress, and Roger the director. All great characters but I really loved the grandfather and Eleanor the nurse.

"Failures and disappointments make time go by so fast that you fail to notice your real life, and the past when I was so free seems to belong to someone else, not myself." from letter to Maxim Gorkey, by Chekhov. This really sums up the book which is consists of interconnected stories about how individual lives in their isolation, mediocrity, age, failure and alienation touch each other without awareness giving them a chance at a real life.

I really liked this book and glad that it made it through the first round of Tournament of Books. ( )
  Kristelh | Mar 20, 2017 |
We get to go not only backstage, but all the way home with a theater troupe (and audience members) trapped in a really awful production of a really terrible musical for children. It takes a monkey to make us realize that we are all human (in not humane). ( )
  seeword | Feb 2, 2017 |

Despite the title, Mister Monkey isn't about a monkey, but rather it centers on a not-very-good musical by that name, which is itself based on a children's book. Beginning with an actress with a role in a cheaply produced off-off-Broadway version of the play, Mister Monkey spirals out, following people whose connection to the play becomes more and more tenuous. Just when it seemed to be in danger of abandoning the musical altogether, Prose pulls the pieces together so that the separate stories all connect in meaningful ways.

There are a few things I reliably like when I read. One of them are short stories, especially inter-connected short stories. Another is when an author is talented enough and cares enough about the characters they've created, to write empathetically about all of them, even the most repulsive or mean-spirited creation. Mister Monkey has all of that, and being written by Francine Prose doesn't hurt its chances either. I found this book delightful. Prose's deep concern for her characters turned people who might have been laughable -- the desperate aging actress, the lonely and frumpy kindergarten teacher, the hormonal and unpleasant eleven year old -- into people I cared about. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Jan 23, 2017 |
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Once upon a time, not so long ago, a scientist (and loving mother) by the name of Mrs. Jimson said a tearful good-bye to her family in New York and went to study monkey in Africa.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062397834, Hardcover)

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author weaves an ingenious, darkly humorous, and brilliantly observant story that follows the exploits and intrigue of a constellation of characters affiliated with an off-off-off-off Broadway children’s musical.

Mister Monkey—a screwball children’s musical about a playfully larcenous pet chimpanzee—is the kind of family favorite that survives far past its prime. Margot, who plays the chimp’s lawyer, knows the production is dreadful and bemoans the failure of her acting career. She’s settled into the drudgery of playing a humiliating part—until the day she receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer . . . and later, in the middle of a performance, has a shocking encounter with Adam, the twelve-year-old who plays the title role.

Francine Prose’s effervescent comedy is told from the viewpoints of wildly unreliable, seemingly disparate characters whose lives become deeply connected as the madcap narrative unfolds. There is Adam, whose looming adolescence informs his interpretation of his role; Edward, a young audience member who is candidly unimpressed with the play; Ray, the author of the novel on which the musical is based, who witnesses one of the most awkward first dates in literature; and even the eponymous Mister Monkey, the Monkey God himself.

With her trademark wit and verve, Prose delves into humanity’s most profound mysteries: art, ambition, childhood, aging, and love. Startling and captivating, Mister Monkey is a breathtaking novel from a writer at the height of her craft.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 25 May 2016 21:08:22 -0400)

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