I am a bit astounded at some of the negative comments I have read, here and there, about Sara Gruen's latest novel, Ape House.
I think she is getting an unjustified bad rap!
[Wrap?] <-- Whatever the correct term is, reviewers are being mean is what I mean!
Most of the criticisms seem to be involving the idea that the book is not really about monkeys, in other words, the main characters end up being people [God forbid].
See, for this I was thankful. I don't really like monkeys all that much. Even though I myself tend to drag my knuckles now and then, overall -- I still find people a lot more interesting.
OK, so the book is hilarious and serious all at once. Always a great mix for me.
And the hilarious stuff isn't too goofy, and I appreciate that. I hate goofy. Hilarity in fiction, for me, has to be restrained and appropriate.
Gruen stays within these Bookpuddle-induced limits.
There is stuff simultaneously funny and not-at-all-funny about the entire premise of the book.
An apiary is bombed by activists. No. Wait. An apiary is where bees are kept.
Ummm... an ape……. thing…. no [better yet] an ape house is blown to smithereens by militant whackjobs who think the bonobos [<-- a species of Congolese ape] would be better off unconfined. Funny, yet not at all.
Isabel Duncan, the fully-dedicated Jane Goodall-like proprietress is horribly injured. She's taken to the hospital for reconstructive surgery, and during this time the apes roost in the surrounding trees, as the media trucks are put into high gear to catch every moment of the impending drama.
I don't want to spoil the book for readers who have not been there yet, so I don't want to say much about the pornographer guy that buys the escaped apes and creates his own subscriber-funded reality show, exploiting them with the help of cameras that capture their every now-domestic activity -- or the Joe Six-Pack type of honest reporter from the New York Times [or is it the Weekly Times? A tabloid? Only we, the reader need to know…] who takes a special interest in the case and writes the ground-breaking story that will finally emancipate our distant ancestors.
By way of many revolving subplots, Sara Gruen shows us [and I think she does it in a very entertaining and convincing way] that our own alleged evolutionary superiority can be validly questioned as we observe how we may yet be susceptible to the exploitation of innocence when it comes to our fascination with the [as yet] animal kingdom. There are times when all of these apes are, without exception, more evolved than we are. [<-- Funny] And times when true reality kicks in, and we realize where we are on the favorable evolutionary side of things. And this fact should never give us license toward exploitation. It should always point to greater responsibility, and respect for others.
No matter who those others should be. [<-- Not so funny]
I think it is a remarkable book.
A final word, and then I am going to go and eat a bunch a bananas, regurgitate them, and then eat them again --> I liked this book more than I liked Water For Elephants.
And go figure -- I like elephants better than monkeys.
One week from tonight Sara Gruen shall be a mere few blocks from where I am writing this -- at my favorite bookstore, and I shall be there.
I hope that in the crush of other people lined up like so many shrapnel-stricken bonobos, I have the presence of mind to say "I loved your book" as she signs my own copy.
To get yours -- click --> HERE.