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Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Monkey Beach (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Eden Robinson

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3461231,609 (4.03)25
Title:Monkey Beach
Authors:Eden Robinson
Info:Think Publishing (2000), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages

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Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (2000)

  1. 20
    Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel by David Guterson (browner56)
    browner56: The Pacific Northwest sets the stage for these engrossing and highly atmospheric novels

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Almost unbearably sad with unforgettable characters. Got a bit too gothic for me by the end but I was totally enthralled by the narrative voice. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
"Weegit the raven has mellowed in his old age. He's still a confirmed bachelor, but he's not the womanizer he once was. Plying the stock market - instead of spending his time being a trickster - has paid off and he has a comfortable condo downtown. He plays up the angle about creating the world and humans, conveniently forgetting that he did it out of boredom. Yes, he admits, he did steal the sun and the moon, but he insists he did it to bring light to humankind even though he did it so it would be easier for him to find food. After some spin control on the crazy pranks of his youth, he's become respectable."

Now this was a realistic coming of age novel with a twist. What a ride!

The story is set in Kitamaat, north of Vancouver, and follows young Lisamarie growing up in the Haisla community. Lisamarie is different - she's pretty tough, taking no nonsense from anyone, but she also has a very sensitive side which allows her to fully experience the beliefs of her people - from the close ties with the natural surroundings to the manifestations of the supernatural.

It is difficult to describe this book. It's a mystery really. It is not a book about the supernatural as such, but Robinson does spin this web that links myth and reality and that makes it very easy to suspend disbelief and slide from one world of facts into the world of folklore.

Absolutely loved it! ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |

Originally posted at http://olduvaireads.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/diversiverse-and-rip-ix-read-monkey...

"I want to stay here on Monkey Beach. Some places are full of power, you can feel it, like a warmth, a tingle. No sasquatches are wandering around the beach today, chased by ambitious, camera-happy boys. Just an otter lounging in the kelp bobbing in the surf and the things in the trees, which may or may not be my imagination."

Jimmy Hill is lost at sea, the fishing boat he was on has lost contact and things are not looking good. Lisamarie, his older sister, waits for information as the search and rescue operation begins. And she begins to reflect on her life in Kitamaat, in this small Haisla Canadian Indian community that she’s grown up in with her family, relatives, friends, sasquatches and ghosts. The narrative moves from present to past and back again, as Lisa chalks up her own (ship)wrecked life. One of alcohol and drugs, of bullies and gangs at school, of tragedies and lost loved ones. And always, forever present, the spirits, the ghosts, the premonitions that surround her, are a part of her life, make her who she is.

It just so happened that Open Road sent me an email offering an e-book version of Monkey Beach for review. I don’t receive many of these types of emails so I’ll just chalk it up to fate! I was meant to read this book and write about it for Diversiverse!

Because what a book it is. And so deserving of being read by more people, whether for Diversiverse or RIP or otherwise.

Monkey Beach was, for me, one of the more, well, diverse reads in these past few weeks of Diversiverse reading.

The Haisla culture, the life in this village north of Vancouver. It’s myths and customs, food and traditions. All completely new to me.

Then there’s that very stark difference between my current suburban American life and my Singaporean childhood, teenhood and adulthood (very urban, very populated, fast-paced, where even in the middle of the night there is noise from somewhere. Singapore is far from quiet) and life in Kitamaat, where boat trips are common, where her family goes camping or fishing or foraging in the woods for berries.

"Oolichan grease is a delicacy that you have to grow up eating to love. Silvery, slender oolichans are about as long as your hand and a little thicker than your thumb. They are part of the smelt family and are one of the tastiest fish on the planet. Cooking oolichans can be as simple as broiling them in the oven until they’re singed— which is heavenly but very smelly, and hard on your ears if you have a noisy smoke alarm— or as touchy and complicated as rendering oil from them to make a concoction called grease. Oolichans can also be dried, smoked, sun-dried, salted, boiled, canned, frozen, but they are tastiest fresh. The best way to eat fresh oolichans is to run them through with a stick and roast them over an open fire like wieners, then eat them while they’re sizzling hot and dripping down your fingers."

"I loved going to Monkey Beach, because you couldn’t take a step without crushing seashells, the crunch of your steps loud and satisfying. The water was so pure that you could see straight down to the bottom. You could watch crabs skittering sideways over discarded clam and cockleshells, and shiners flicking back and forth. Kelp the colour of brown beer bottles rose from the bottom, tall and thin with bulbs on top, each bulb with long strands growing out of it, as flat as noodles, waving in the tide."

Lisa’s relationship with her family is also a big part of the book. Her beloved Uncle Mick, a Native rights activist, the kind of uncle who lets out a moose call to attract their attention at a party. Her cantankerous and rather hilarious grandmother Ma-ma-oo who teaches her about Haisla ways, whose thrifty ways meant her curtains were so threadbare, her TV picked up CB signals, but her fishing nets were always immaculate.

It is also a story that speaks of a love for place and culture, as Robinson has set it in the village of Kitamaat where she was born. And while remote, this little community cannot ignore the encroachment of the rest of the world and its influences.

"The tide rocks the kelp beds, the long dark leaves trail gently in the cloudy green water. I hear squeaking and chirping. Dark bodies twirl in the water, pause, still for a moment as I’m examined. I dip my hands in the water and the sea otters dart away, then back, timid as fish. Well, I’m here, I think. At Monkey Beach."

And with its restless spirits, its ghostly premonitions, the visions of Sasquatches, Lisa’s life hovers between two worlds.

“I heard something crunching on the hardened snow. In the distance, I could hear whistles. Something was coming towards me. I kept watching the sky. No one’s here, I told myself. I’m not letting my imagination get away from me. I am alone, and I don’t see anything but the auroras, low on the horzion, undulating to their own music.”

Monkey Beach is that gem of a book that sweeps you off your comfy reading chair and into the embrace of a different place altogether – the salty sea breeze caresses your hair and the greasy scent of oolichans sizzling on the campfire lures you in. And all the time, those restless spirits murmur and whisper. ( )
  RealLifeReading | Jan 19, 2016 |
I could not resist the narrative voice of this earthy, augury filled, family rich story set in the First Nations Haisla community of western Canada. Nineteen year old Lisamarie is generally fearless and never takes guff from anyone--she’ll launch herself at a gang of bullies without hesitation and her uncle affectionately calls her monster--but the nighttime visits she receives from a small, wild, red haired man terrify her because they always precede a death or tragedy. It’s a visionary “gift” she discovers runs in her family, though no one talks much about anymore so she’s mostly on her own with it.

When her younger brother Jimmy is lost at sea Lisamarie embarks on a solo speedboat trip up the Pacific coast driven by guilt, fear and grief, determined to find him or his body. Her vivid memories and visions along the way take the story all the way back to her early childhood and into the land of the dead.

The ending? It’s somewhat hallucinatory, not something I could confidently articulate, but I was swept along anyway. With writing that’s beautiful and raw, this book is a colorful, sometimes dizzying odyssey, filled with ghosts, poverty, kinship ties, Haisla culture, Sasquatch monkey men, and the grit and wonder of the natural world. ( )
  Jaylia3 | May 14, 2015 |
The book was a slow moving, coming of age book, but it was a good, slow moving book. I enjoyed the fact the author took the time to explore Lisa's past and how it affected her to be the person she was.

The spiritual/magical realism side of things was an interesting touch. I would have like to understand it more and I wish it was explored more. The author tied into the story wonderfully and it complimented the story, particularly Lisa's development nicely, I just wanted more on it. Especially considering it was such an important part of who Lisa was and how it connected her to the other characters.

I loved the writing, it pulled me in and flowed wonderfully throughout the book. One of my main draws into the story, was the writing alone. There were times, where I didn't enjoy the plot as much, a few bits of Lisa's past that I felt I had to push through, but the writing, made it worth it.

I can't say I liked or disliked the characters. All were well written, well developed. They all had their demons, secrets and overall, I found them all to compliment and come together well. Yet, I don't think I can say they was a character that stood out, and I don't feel they stuck with me.

The ending was well done, it was ambiguous and left a lot open - but a lot of the book was like that, there were a few things I questioned in this book, that were hinted at, but nothing ever was laid out in the open if it was true or not. But, despite this, I think it was a fitting ending, and despite not knowing all the answers, I think it was the best part of the book - for once I liked the unknown for the ending.

Good read overall.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Monkey Beach ( )
  bookwormjules | Mar 1, 2015 |
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It is possible to retaliate against an enemy,
But impossible to retaliate against storms.

--Haisla Proverb
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Six crows sit in our greengage tree. Half-awake, I hear them speak to me in Haisla.
Never trust the spirit world too much. They think different from the living
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618219056, Paperback)

Lisamarie Hill, the protagonist of Eden Robinson's coming-of-age novel Monkey Beach, is a terror. She'll run out of an evacuating car to get a better view of a tidal wave. She'll drag you unconscious to a deserted island with nothing but cigarettes, marshmallows, and the need to get you talking. Whatever her age, she'll ask awkward questions.

Set in the coastal Haisla village of Kitamaat near British Columbia's dauntingly gorgeous Queen Charlotte Islands, Monkey Beach is the story of Lisa and her Haisla community, including uncles involved in First Nations warrior movements, industrious grandmothers with one foot in the grave and the other in various spirit worlds, and the long-armed specter of residential schools. The path to adulthood (and you risk a bloody nose if you call Lisa an adult) for Lisa and her friends is beset by the dangers of substance abuse and family violence but sprinkled with hopes as varied as Olympic gold or, sadly, a "really great truck."

Monkey Beach succeeds as a novel of voice. Narrator and hero Lisa is whip-smart and ever cracking-wise: "The sky, one sheet of pissing greyness, stretches low across the horizon." Plot, however, doesn't come off so naturally. The Big Horrible Event at the story's end seems produced by page count alone, not by character. Voice and character do carry the novel, but the plot feels microwaved where it should be slow-roasted. --Darryl Whetter

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:21 -0400)

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