Love in Infant Monkeys: Stories

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9781593762520: Love in Infant Monkeys: Stories
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Lions, Komodo dragons, dogs, monkeys, and pheasants all have shared spotlights and tabloid headlines with celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Thomas Edison, and David Hasselhoff. Millet hilariously tweaks these unholy communions to run a stake through the heart of our fascination with famous people and pop culture.

While in so much fiction animals exist as symbols of good and evil or as author stand-ins, they represent nothing but themselves in Millet’s ruthlessly lucid prose. Implacable in their actions, the animals in Millet’s spiraling fictional riffs and flounces show up their humans as bloated with foolishness yet curiously vulnerable, as in a tour-de-force Kabbalah-infused interior monologue by Madonna after she shoots a pheasant on her Scottish estate. Millet treads newly imaginative territory with these charismatic tales.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. It makes a bizarre kind of sense to pair animals with celebrities, as the PEN-USA Award–winning Millet does in her new collection, since both tend to provoke our sympathy while remaining fundamentally alien. This disconnect proves a fascinating subject for stories where David Hasselhoff's dachshund (which is not his fault) inspires meditations on mortality, Noam Chomsky holds forth on hamsters, Jimmy Carter spares the swamp rabbit, and Thomas Edison is haunted by the elephant he electrocuted. Millet's apprehension of interspecies rapport is particularly sharp in Sexing the Pheasant, where Madonna's remorse at shooting a pheasant (while hunting in Prada boots, naturally) is mainly symptomatic of her own self-regard. For sheer line-for-line delight, nothing beats The Lady and the Dragon, where a Sharon Stone look-alike is lured to the bedside of an Indonesian billionaire who plans to make the movie star his concubine. Millet's stories evoke the spectrum of human feeling and also its limits, not unlike the famous naturalist in Girl and Giraffe, who watches as lions and giraffes live out the possibilities of the world while hiding in the underbrush: being a primate, he was separate forever. (Oct.)
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Review:

"These incredibly crafted stories, with their rare intelligence, humor, and empathy, describe the furious collision of nature and science, man and animal, everyday citizen and celebrity, fact and fiction. Lydia Millet's writing sparkles with urgent brilliance." -- Joe Meno

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