Minot, Susan. Monkeys. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2000.
Reason read: Even though Monkeys isn’t about animals, I am reading it in honor of the television series “All Creatures Great and Small” first airing in the month of January. In addition, I needed a one-word title for the Portland Public Library Reading Challenge.
Monkeys was the term of endearment Rosie Vincent called her large brood of seven children. Cheerful and sometimes silly, Rosie was the glue that held this chaotic family together. When she is tragically killed the children are left to deal with their grief. Sometimes they are forced to parent an alcoholic father who can’t focus on his responsibilities (but manages to remarry in a year). As a stand alone novel of vignettes Monkeys may seem disjointed and fuzzy; not very well thought out, but when you consider Monkeys as a transparent autobiography, it makes way more sense. Minot herself has six siblings. Her mother was killed at a train crossing, exactly like Rosie Vincent. The first story (told in first person) could very well be Minot herself reliving her childhood memories. The rest of the stories are in third person and might be true events about her siblings.
As an aside, it would be interesting to read Monkeys along with with the works of her sister (The Tiny One) and brother (The Blue Bowl) for comparison.
One quote to quote, “One evening, Mum asked her to promise she wouldn’t commit suicide until she was eighteen” (p 81).
Author fact: At last check, Minot lived in Maine.
Book trivia: Monkeys is Minot’s first fiction.
Playlist, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”
Nancy said: Pearl said that Monkeys was one perspective on growing up in a large, dysfunctional New England Catholic family.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “All in the Family: Writer Dynasties” (p 5).