"All of these things, accidents. But the thing that's come at them tonight came with true criminal intent. Against his father's time-honored advice Duncan had swerved and tried to take most of the blow on the driver's side. Later, when Lily is clucking at the Saab, its hood crushed like a boxer's nose, he'll insist they were lucky. It was trying to grease all three of us, he'll say." - From New World Monkeys
I first heard of New World Monkeys in the September/October edition of Writer's Digest magazine. I was so captivated by the short paragraph describing this book by Nancy Mauro (the More Notable Debuts section), that I wrote her personally (something I had never done in all my years reviewing!), asking if she could forward my review copy request to her publicist.
She was very gracious, as was the publicist, and I was eager to devour the book when it arrived less than a week later.
I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most brilliant novels I've ever read, perhaps THE most brilliant. I stand in awe of Mauro as a writer; her wicked wit, penetrating observations, eccentric characters, and bang-on portrayal of humans devolving (talk about turning "character arc" on its head!) are absorbing, disturbing, twisted, and--at times--laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Resounding with the symbolic recurrence of hirsute themes (representing the beastly nature within humanity?), New World Monkeys is about a city couple accidentally killing a small-town mascot (a wild boar), the repercussions of the death blow (executed not by the advertising husband, but by his Ph.D. architectual candidate wife), their subsequent finding of human bones in the garden (RIP Tinker), their together-yet-alone relationship--and so much more.
Duncan and Lily are, in effect, perched "above it all"--playing it safe, surveying their surroundings, probably feeling superior to anyone and everyone. But when they literally "get in the dirt" while excavating Tinker's bones--a new evolution happens.
Lily befriends an erudite Peeping Pervert (and goes on some deviant look-sees with him), Duncan cooks up an oh-so-un-PC ad campaign for jeans using the Vietnam War as a backdrop, and a cast of peculiar characters intersect their lives in Osterhagen.
I enjoyed this book SO MUCH and can't recommend it highly enough. I rarely read books more than once, but I'm itching to re-read it already because of Mauro's masterful, poetic prose. (Speaking of Prose, Nancy Mauro, indeed, reminds me of Francine Prose. My husband, who I admonished MUST read this book--and he is now, and loving it!--made this same observation to me on his own.)
If you want to discover an amazing new author, enjoy gorgeous word contortions, and love quirky (but well-written) literary fiction , you MUST get New World Monkeys!
-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot
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