Fiction Kyle Smith Love Monkey: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780060574536

Love Monkey: A Novel

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9780060574536: Love Monkey: A Novel

Many men aim high; Tom Farrell dares to be average. While his friends accumulate wedding rings, mortgages, and even, alarmingly, babies, Tom still lives alone in his rented apartment with nothing but condiments and alcohol in his refrigerator. He spends Saturday mornings watching cartoons and eating Cocoa Puffs out of an Empire Strikes Back bowl, and devotes the rest of the weekend to his other favorite hobbies: sports and girls. His credo, to think and act like a thirteen-year-old boy at all times, has worked well enough to land him a decent job writing headlines for the New York Tabloid. But neither his personal life nor his professional life has any forward momentum; he's occupied the same cubicle since the first George Bush was president and is currently "between girlfriends." At thirty-two, it starts to occur to him: There's a fine line between picky and loser.

Enter a sly, beautiful coworker named Julia. After a few torrid dates, Tom is hooked. "She's like cleaning behind my refrigerator. A once-in-a-lifetime thing." But the closer he gets to Julia, the more elusive she becomes. Frustrated, Tom seeks the dubious advice of his buddy Shooter, a shallow sexual gladiator, and wonders why he keeps getting into arguments with Bran, his smart, sarcastic "default date." But then tragedy strikes, and everyone's attitudes toward life and love change -- and even Tom begins to see himself in a new light.

By turns riotous and tenderhearted, Kyle Smith's Love Monkey is the most candid and excruciatingly funny exploration of the male mind and libido since High Fidelity.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Kyle Smith is the author of Love Monkey, the hit novel that was adapted into a CBS television series starring Tom Cavanagh and Jason Priestley. He is also a movie critic for the New York Post, which posts his reviews online each week at nypost.com. He lives in New York City.

From The Washington Post:

There's a fine German word, bildungsroman, for "novel of growing up"; is there a male-oriented synonym for "novel of not growing up" -- one where you don't mature until you're well past 30? Ten years ago, Nick Hornby set the modern standard with High Fidelity, in which a 35-year-old record store owner assesses his life so far by grouping his obsessions -- classic rock, women, movies -- into Top Five lists. A terrifically successful debut that led to a movie almost as good, it may have impressed no one more than Kyle Smith, who adopts it as the loose playbook for his own first novel. Love Monkey wears the influence on both its jacket ("the most candid and excruciatingly funny exploration of the male mind and libido since High Fidelity") and its sleeve: No sooner than page five, Smith's narrator Tom Farrell admiringly considers how the author of a previous book -- whose "whole story is told in Top Five lists," and which also became a popular movie -- must have scored pretty well with the chicks: "He wrote the world's longest personal ad, and got paid for it."

I have no idea how much Smith himself got paid, but I hope it was a pile, because I sure don't see this book getting him much action.

Granted, it, too, has its own string of Top Five and Ten lists, as well as a lot of extended commentary on whatever record happens to be playing at the time, with "Murmur," "Blood on the Tracks" and "Let It Bleed" all getting heavy rotation. Tom scores some funny lines, but he's annoying company for a few hundred pages. Listening to him rant is like being stuck on a cross-country bus handcuffed to a morning-zoo deejay.

At 32, Tom is an overweight, out-of-shape and fairly well-off "manboy," a not-that-proud prototype of the "Lamest Generation," the one that came of age in the '80s: "Cultural anthropologists of the future will remember us primarily for nonblack tuxedoes, Valerie Bertinelli, and Men at Work. Our grandfathers won World War II. We can't even tie a bow tie." Living in the big city over the summer and fall of 2001 -- and yes, you'll soon be hearing those planes in the distance -- Tom works as an overpaid "weekend features editor" at the Tabloid, "America's loudest newspaper," which provides him with enough money and time to trawl through Manhattan like a tubby Marcello from "La Dolce Vita." He enjoys spiffy furniture, gadgets, fine dining, nutrition-free shopping in "the Bachelor aisle" of the grocery store and, despite both his personality and his complaints to the contrary, a surprising amount of female company. Chief among these are his "default date," the TV reporter Brandy Lowenstein, and Liesl, an attractive but culturally unhip lawyer who doesn't get most of Tom's references.

Into Tom's personal life enters Julia Brouillard, the 22-year-old copygirl at the Tabloid who has tortured Tom's libido ever since arriving last spring. Julia is beautiful, girly and smart, with quirks in all the right places: "She has read Sylvia Plath but never interpreted her writing as a call to stop shaving her armpits. She's on antidepressants but doesn't brag about it. She does not wear glasses but she wishes she did." Much to his surprise, Julia likes him back, and although she has a boyfriend, Dwayne, back home -- a dullard whose inferiority is mostly communicated to us by the fact that he talkth thunny -- she and Tom keep up a passionate touchy-squeezy almost-affair. Julia does lots of nerve-wracking pretty-girl stuff like showing up late or not at all for dates, and Tom does everything he can to make her forget whath-hith-name, wishing all the while that he could take matters in his own hands like a real man. For advice in that area, he relies on Shooter, a rich, black, hard-drinking playboy and all-round Guide to Life who plays Bogart to Tom's Woody Allen -- who, incidentally, was the one who popularized this whole schtick to begin with.

Tom thinks occasionally about growing up, "cashing in however many talent chips I have, getting down to work. But there's always something good on TV." The perfect opportunity for maturity comes with the September terrorist attacks -- which are recalled in the blandest possible way, as if Smith is determined not to let anything get in the way of his book-length comedy routine, and which supposedly forces Tom to see beyond his small, lust-driven world. I didn't buy it, though, as Tom is such a one-note character that when Smith wants to give him some dimension he has nothing to work with. Smith's Tom is not Hornby's Rob, Smith is not Hornby, and this book is not that one. Like a Dave Matthews cover version, it doesn't do much more than make you recall the original that much more fondly.

Reviewed by Rodney Welch


Copyright 2004, The Washington Post Co. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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