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Monster, 1959

by David Maine

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
686333,087 (2.93)8
The US Government has been testing the long-term effects of high-level radiation on a few select islands in the South Pacific. Their efforts have produced killer plants, mole people, and a 40 foot creature named K. Covered in fur and feathers, gifted with unusable butterfly wings and the mental capacity of a goldfish, K. is an evolutionary experiment gone very awry. Although he has no real understanding of his world, he knows when he's hungry, and he knows to follow the drum beats that lead him, every time, to the tree where a woman will be offered to him as sacrifice by the natives. When a group of American hunters stumble across the island, it's bound to get interesting. Especially when the natives offer up the beautiful wife of the guide to K. Not to be outdone, the Americans manage to capture him. Back in the States, they start a traveling show. The main attraction: K. Monster, 1959 is not just a portrait of what may have gone wrong inside the head of a monster like Godzilla, it isn't just a novel that follows the typical plot of a '50s monster movie. It's also a nuanced, detailed and exquisitely written view of a time that had a profound effect on creating the world we live in today. It captures David Maine's storytelling brilliance as it's never been seen before.… (more)
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Monster 1959

By David Maine

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin

Published In: New York, NY

Date: 2009

Pgs: 242

Summary:

An ongoing test is underway in the South Pacific…just downwind from a large nuclear testing range. This United States government regulated test is looking at the longterm effects of radiation on a few small islands and their inhabitants. Killer plants, mole people, and giant monsters abound. Paramount is K. K stands 40 feet tall, covered in fur and feathers and scales, butterfly wings and antenna, and the mental capacity of a goldfish. The natives keep him happy by offering him a young woman twice a year. Their world is perfect, as far as it goes. Until a bunch of big game hunters appear on their island. A kidnapped Fay Wray type, a big game hunter with a large portion of sexual deviancy, a Barnum and Bailey type looking for his big break what could possibly go wrong.

Genre:

Kaiju, daikaiju, giant monster, nostalgia, alternate history, alternate worlds

Main Character:

K. There’s just no way to consider any of the other characters anything other than bit players in his drama.

Favorite Character:

K. Or maybe, Doug, the tall guy who plays a human sized K in the circus performance before the BIG reveal that brings the show to its climax.

Least Favorite Character:

Johnny. Largely, because of his thrill sex kink. Obviously, Maine had the ending of the book written first and worked backwards. And it shows in Johnny.

Favorite Scene:

Probably when the too smart island girl thinks that she understands K…and finds out the truth. Or considering what happens to her, might not find out. But we do.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:

Billy, the promoter and Barnum and Bailey type, disappears from the stage toward the end. True he said where he was going and what he was going to do, but it still feels abrupt…abrupt is the wrong word, more like, unfinished.

Last Page Sound:

Well that’s pure shock cinema. That last bit was shock value…and didn’t have anything to do with K. I mean, c’mon…your big finish is casualties found in the midst of anal sex. C’mon.

Author Assessment:

The structure of the story was odd. I liked it. But odd. Based on how I feel after the shock value ending, I’m going to say I probably won’t be reading anything else by this author and can’t really recommend it to anyone else unless they are just wanting a 1950s-esque giant monster story with an overly heavy morality play going on and unlikable characters…except for the Monster and the Monster’s human counterpart.

Disposition of Book:

Half Price Book it. ( )
  texascheeseman | May 23, 2012 |
I picked it up because I liked the cover and I thought it might be a tongue-in-cheek ode to B-movies. Which it is, sort of. It's a mix of history, pop culture (of the 1950s), B-movie references, radiation testing, and King Kong. I found it to be unusual and interesting and I enjoyed it. ( )
  jlparent | May 8, 2011 |
The other books I've read by David Maine have taken well-known Bible stories as their starting point. This book takes its inspiration from the King Kong story, mixed with 1950s B-Movies about monsters. K is the monster (a massive weird amalgamation of other creatures) who lives on an island where the locals make regular sacrifices to him. Then along come a group of Americans and instead of sacrificing one of their own people, the locals sacrifice a blonde American woman instead. The monster is then captured and taken to the USA where he is put in a circus. The book is structured as if it was a movie, but the story is fleshed out so that we see the motivation of characters, the details you wouldn't see in a film, but interestingly it goes in the other opposite direction from the films it parodies regarding the monster as it doesn't try to humanise him and assign human thoughts to him. Whilst the setting of the book is the 1950s, there are also references to political events from around the world from various periods. Some reviews I've read found Maine's political comments too much, but to me it seemed entirely appropriate as 1950s films were so entrenched in ideology and particularly the monster movies which were usually very thinly disguised references to communism. ( )
  sanddancer | Jul 7, 2010 |
Monster, 1959 has a fair amount of...excitement, and Maine expertly layers this with K.'s dawning sense of his self as a being rather than a collected series of impulses sheathed in animal muscle. K. never becomes fully cognisant and therefore a complete individual, but in places he gains what only can be described as insight: "Now what? K. wonders wordlessly, not recognizing this as a breakthrough: he has learned to expect things to happen."

Maine, however, wants to thrust his subtext forward to garner equal coverage to the beast, and that's where Monster, 1959 falters, not fatally, but substantially. Maine has a point of view, mocking the world through his presentation of K. and juxtaposing his plight with those of displaced cultures the world over, most notably the Palestinians. And there is nothing inherently wrong with this, but Maine's B-movie plot structure cannot hold up under the deadly seriousness of his agenda.

Read the entire review here. ( )
  ShelfMonkey | Nov 18, 2009 |
I wanted to like this book, and by and large I did. I think this novel tries to be equal parts homage, parody and social commentary, and it's in that last capacity that it stumbles. This miscalculation weakens what is otherwise a very entertaining and original sendup of the monster movie genre. ( )
  rumhud | May 9, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Maineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Richardson, OwenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The US Government has been testing the long-term effects of high-level radiation on a few select islands in the South Pacific. Their efforts have produced killer plants, mole people, and a 40 foot creature named K. Covered in fur and feathers, gifted with unusable butterfly wings and the mental capacity of a goldfish, K. is an evolutionary experiment gone very awry. Although he has no real understanding of his world, he knows when he's hungry, and he knows to follow the drum beats that lead him, every time, to the tree where a woman will be offered to him as sacrifice by the natives. When a group of American hunters stumble across the island, it's bound to get interesting. Especially when the natives offer up the beautiful wife of the guide to K. Not to be outdone, the Americans manage to capture him. Back in the States, they start a traveling show. The main attraction: K. Monster, 1959 is not just a portrait of what may have gone wrong inside the head of a monster like Godzilla, it isn't just a novel that follows the typical plot of a '50s monster movie. It's also a nuanced, detailed and exquisitely written view of a time that had a profound effect on creating the world we live in today. It captures David Maine's storytelling brilliance as it's never been seen before.

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