NEW WORLD MONKEYS by Nancy Mauro

Book Quote:

“They come at each other this way, with optimism hammered thin as foil, still sentient of all that is hostile, muddled and injured between them. The inescapable trace of farm manure in the air makes everything else less desirable. The Osterhagen they have never discussed is the one they have just arrived in at this moment, with the singular task of deciding whether to leave together. The others – - the boar and the nanny, the pervert, the artillerymen torn between this graceless kiss and blasting a charge through the trees – - are the complications they have invited to avoid being alone with the truth.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (SEP 17, 2009)

Duncan and Lily’s marriage is on the brink of disaster. They hope that by spending part of the summer in Osterhagen, in upstate New York, they will have a change of environment and a more peaceful setting than they had in their home in Manhattan, in which to work out their problems. They have a house there that was left to them by Lily’s family. They are heading up to Osterhagen when, suddenly, as if in a suicidal gesture, a wild boar runs into their car and gets caught, nearly dead, on their bumper. What to do? One of them has to kill it with a tire iron to finish off its misery.

They arrive in Osterhagen only to find out that this boar is Osterhagen’s beloved mascot, ‘The Sovereign of the Deep Wood.”  They wonder if their secret of killing the boar is keeping them closer or moving them even further apart. Lily immediately tells Duncan that she will be staying in Osterhagen all summer and not just weekends. Ostensibly, she wants to finish her doctorate. Duncan will come up on Thursday nights for long weekends. Lily, however, decides they must have separate bedrooms. While Duncan travels back and forth to Manhattan, Lily is left to deal with the artillerymen who gather to defend the loss of their boar.

As Lily works on her doctorate in the quiet and rural Osterhagen library, she meets Lloyd, a pervert with whom she forges a close relationship. Primarily a peeping Tom, and not always for sexual reasons, Lily goes with Lloyd on some nighttime exploits to see the secrets of people in their nighttime aloneness. For Lily, Lloyd is “the cartographer of Osterhagen. His geography is the rooftops and alleys of the small town. She imagines he possesses encyclopedic knowledge of windows, alcoves, and terraces, the shelter of overhangs, all things scalable, the cover of shrubs at ground level, the slats of space between fence boards, the location of notches in these boards, the few remaining unstuffed keyholes, the sag spots where drawn curtains refuse to join.” Nighttime finds Lloyd and Lily on roofs, watching the humiliations and secrets of others.

Meanwhile, at home, Lily and Duncan start a garden only to find the remains of human bones there. They believe these remains belong to Tinker, the nanny to Lily’s grandfather who once lived in this house. There is a mysterious story behind the nanny’s relationship to the family and Lily imagines that she must have been killed in retaliation for her deeds.

In Manhattan, Duncan struggles with the advertising campaign he is working on, coming up with an idea that becomes more and more misogynistic and confabulated. He has to deal with office intrigues and backstabbing, trying to keep his job and stay at the top of his form all the time. This is difficult, as he can’t discern who his allies and his enemies truly are.

These five plot components intertwine throughout the book with each chapter dealing with one or several of them at a time. The language of this book is beautiful, a mix between magical realism and a narrative that focuses on the minutiae of the senses as the characters struggle to come to terms with conflicts and resolutions. Each plot line creates a separate venue for character development. They don’t always overlap and so there are several stories at play here. Each one is mysterious and magical, awaiting the reader’s myriad interpretations.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 9 readers
PUBLISHER: Shaye Areheart Books (September 15, 2009)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AMAZON PAGE: New World Monkeys
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Nancy Mauro
EXTRAS: New World Monkeys blog
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Books with some similarities:

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

The Isle of Dogs by Daniel Davies

Grasshopper by Barbara Vine

Bibliography:


September 17, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Humorous, Literary, NE & New York, Reading Guide

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