Reviews for Love in Infant Monkeys : Stories


Booklist Reviews 2009 September #2
*Starred Review* Animals are dying for our sins. In her first short story collection after six scorching novels, brilliant and audacious Millet archly plucks famous people out of history books and the tabloids and places them at the nucleus of acerbic yet elegiac tales about stark encounters with other species. Here's Madonna, "to the manor ascended," trying to be all British by shooting a pheasant. Noam Chomsky tries to interest folks in a plastic gerbil condominium. Millet turns from droll and caustic to haunting and tragic in concise yet psychologically and morally intricate stories about Thomas Edison and Topsy, the elephant he electrocuted, and George Adamson, who, like his wife, Joy, of Born Free-fame, anchored his life to lions and came to a tragic end. The harrowing title piece provides the key as a scientist conducts experiments involving the cruel separation of infant monkeys from their mothers. What Millet is up to in each wrenching parable is contrasting human narcissism and hubris with motherhood and the profound work of caring for the vulnerable, which emerges as a universal expression of the life force--one that we, as biosphere-destroying animals, trivialize at our peril. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 September #2
Short fiction from risk-taking novelist Millet (How the Dead Dream, 2008, etc.).These ten stories aim to erase the distinction between humans and animals. Humans are mostly represented here by celebrities, and Millet uses several real-life episodes of interspecies interaction as her starting point. She considers, for example, Thomas Edison's electrocution of the elephant Topsy and Jimmy Carter's humiliating encounter with a "killer rabbit." An author who has imagined a trailer-park denizen's quest to win the heart of the 41st president (George Bush, Dark Prince of Love, 2000) is clearly not afraid of high-concept fiction, and Millet has in the past handled potentially ridiculous conceits with mastery and verve. This time out, her use of celebrities never rises above a cute gimmick. The first story, for example, is a monologue that takes place inside Madonna's head after she shoots but fails to kill a pheasant on her English estate. The fictional Madge has no internal consistency. This problem runs throughout the collection. Drawing closer to our animal cousins seems to have robbed Millet of her once-prodigious capacity to depict--and to sympathize with--Homo sapiens. It's probably no coincidence that the collection's most compelling character is a dog walker who has intense regard for his charges and little but contempt for their owners. Noble intent, interesting idea, disappointing execution. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2009 September #1

Millet follows her sixth novel (How the Dead Dream) with a collection of stories, some previously published, combining celebrities with animals. In "Sexing the Pheasant," Madonna has not quite killed a pheasant on her Scottish estate and obsesses over her adoptive Englishness, among other things. The titular tale examines Harry Harlow's detached efforts to study his controlled "absence of love" in infant rhesus monkeys. A man at the Wellfleet town dump encounters Noam Chomsky, who is trying to give away his granddaughter's gerbil condo in "Chomsky, Rodents." In perhaps the most surreal and humorous yarn, "Lady and Dragon," an Asian billionaire attempts to win the admiration of actress Sharon Stone by adopting the Komodo dragon who bit her ex-husband. VERDICT Ranging from the mundane to the surreal, Millet's satirical yet sometimes touching stories will appeal to fans of the author's previous novels, especially Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, and to fans of T.C. Boyle's fictionalizations of well-known figures.--Cristella Bond, Muncie, IL

[Page 110]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 August #1

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.)

[Page 28]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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