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Love Monkey: A Novel

Love Monkey: A Novel

3.8 21
by Kyle Smith

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
The skirt-chasing jerk at the center of Kyle Smith's first novel is self-centered, cynical, royally obnoxious at some times and soggily sincere at others. Of course these attributes are actually selling points among commercial novels about the dating woes of hyperadorable young women. If men deserve equal time in this inch-deep genre, Mr. Smith earns his place with an unstoppable string of glib but hilarious wisecracks. He's a whole lot funnier than he deserves to be. — Janet Maslin
The New Yorker
Tom Farrell, an editor in his early thirties at Tabloid (a thinly veiled version of the New York Post), can’t figure out how to navigate Manhattan’s dating scene. Tom knows women, but he has a Goldilocks problem: none of the women he knows are just right for him. In this chronicle of four and a half months in the life of a hapless, single city-dweller, Smith blends hilarity and cynicism in order to adapt the Bridget Jones formula to a male perspective. A brief detour into a post-9/11 subplot somewhat arrests the comic flow, but it is actually one of the book’s most interesting sections, and imparts to the hectic seduction games a nagging sense of unease, along with some genuine insight into the dilemmas of daily journalism.
Publishers Weekly
Smith has clearly taken lessons from a few successful writers of chick lit ("Days Without Sex: 0"), but his boy version of Bridget Jones lacks the key ingredient: a sympathetic protagonist. Tom Farrell, 32, lives in Manhattan and works at a publication called Tabloid (a dead ringer for the New York Post), which proudly proclaims itself to be "America's loudest newspaper." Farrell's job is that of "rewrite man," redoing stories by shaping them into salacious shorts and then coming up with eye-catching headlines. As he puts it, however, his "most time-consuming hobby is collecting ex-girlfriends," and the novel-which chronicles five months in Farrell's life-is mostly a jumbled catalogue of his failed love affairs. There's Julia, a co-worker Farrell can't get out of his head; Bran, a platonic friend he might try to get into his bed; Katie, a budding lawyer; and Liesl, an earnest German paralegal. Smith, the book and music review editor at People magazine, writes in glossy and accessible magazine prose (Farrell describes a co-worker as "a girl whose hotitude was... off the charts") and his New York patter can be clever. Searching for its place somewhere between Nick Hornby in subject matter and David Sedaris in its wit, this novel rests uneasily between the two. Publishing and journalism insiders will enjoy Smith's spot-on description of the tabloid life, but women looking for insights into the male psyche, the real potential readership here, may not take kindly to Smith's unflattering dissection of his dates. Still, this is a lively, prominsg debut. Agent, Harriet Wasserman. (Feb. 3) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Immature, superficial, and lackadaisical about the future, Tom Farrell is a typical 32-year-old single guy living in New York City. This self-described "Gap of bachelors" spends his days writing headlines for a tabloid and his evenings romancing a series of attractive women-relationships that lead nowhere. (As Tom puts it, "I played the field, and the field won.") Then he meets Julia, a beautiful co-worker who is a decade younger but infinitely wiser and maddeningly talented at playing the come-hither, go-away dating game. It takes the events of 9/11 to force Tom to reexamine his attitudes about life, the woman he loves, and his future. In his first novel, Smith, the book and music review editor of People magazine, tries too hard to be clever (like Tom himself), piling witticism upon witticism and referencing numerous "in" people, places, and events. Consequently, the book seems facile rather than meaningful, at least to this reviewer, who is neither male nor thirtysomething nor a New Yorker. Libraries looking for lad lit to satisfy this demographic should purchase. Others can safely pass.-Nancy Pearl, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pitiable young man seeking woman-any woman. The whining narrator and male Bridget Jones stand-in here (he even has a slight weight problem) is Tom Farrell, in his early 30s, a guy who spends most of his time rewriting copy at Tabloid, a disreputable in-your-face paper that's an obvious New York Post stand-in. Off-hours, Tom watches TV in his Upper West Side bachelor pad or moons after Julia, the lovely, flakey, much-younger copy girl who keeps giving him just enough rope to embarrass himself with. Things start off promisingly, as author Smith (who, as book review editor at People, has read enough relationship fiction to do this kind of thing blindfolded) has a smart way with Tom's roiling inner monologue-enough to keep a reader engaged even when nothing in particular is going on. The monologues are nothing a smarter-than-average Maxim reader wouldn't come up with (on the coolness of Bugs Bunny, why it's too much work to shop anywhere but Banana Republic, the myriad ways women are insane), but they're entertaining nevertheless and dashed with a pleasing amount of malice. Smith is even sharp enough to deflect High Fidelity comparisons by referring to that book on page five. Unfortunately, though, the reader has to get dragged through Tom's increasingly depressing nonrelationship with Julia-and all the other women he tries to hook up with; this isn't bad in itself, but the longer you know Tom, the quicker you realize that he's not just a schlubby loser with a sardonic take on life: he's an arrogant bastard with bitter contempt for anyone who lives life differently from the way he does. For a novel with higher pretensions, such a character might not present a problem, but for a bookapparently aiming to be just a light, sassy Hornby/Fielding knockoff, it's a fatal flaw to have this narrow-minded wank at its center. Funny material corrupted by a protagonist who grows less funny the longer you know him. Agent: Harriet Wasserman

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Love Monkey

By Smith, Kyle

William Morrow & Company

ISBN: 0060574534

Chapter One

Saturday, July 7

My day.

8:00 A.M. Arise.

8:00–8:15. Light stretching. Don't forget those hamstrings. A few push-ups to warm the blood.

8:20. Out the door, hit Central Park Reservoir. Do six laps. Pace: seven minutes per mile. That's ten and a half miles in seventy-five minutes.

9:45. Back home. Shower, reread The Brothers Karamazov ("Grand Inquisitor" episode only).

11:45. Call Mom.

12:30. Lunch. Grilled quail, wild rice, spinach salad, fresh-squeezed oj.

1:00. To the Met. Check out Vermeer exhibit. Strike up conversation with cute twenty-five-year-old Dutch graduate student I meet standing in front of Woman Wearing Doily Around Her Neck; obtain her numerals, agree to meet for drinks at the Carlyle "early next week."

4:00. Back home. Work on my novel till dinner. One interruption: call from superagent.

8:30. Quiet dinner with a few friends at Le Bernadin. No really, fellas, it's on me. They all know about my huge advance. We laugh about it.

11:45. Village Vanguard to hear some jazz. Exchange dirty jokes with compadres, trade saucy banter with cocktail waitress who, as I sweep out the door, slips me her digits.

2:00. Cab back home, practice piano for half an hour, and so to bed. If can't sleep, read a chapter of that John Adams bio everyone's talking about. (Was he really cooler than T. Jefferson?)

That's what it says in my Yahoo! appointment book for today, anyway. But back here on Planet Manhattan, I creep out of bed as dawn breaks over Honolulu and skulk in the shower for forty-five minutes. (I know it was forty-five minutes because I had Pink Floyd's The Wall in my Raindance CD player, and I got all the way through disc one.) Then I pick, off the floor, a few more dead flower petals from The Dinner and plant myself on the sofa that still bears my ass print from last night, surrounded by my twenty-first-century entertainment- and sodium-delivery devices: four fiendishly over-complicated, girl-proof remote controls; two near-spent crinkly bags of salty snacks. There's a white crumb on the couch. I am too civilized to just leave it there, so I pick it up. And I put it in my mouth. Pfft. Dandruff. At best.

Some notes on me.

The name is Tom Farrell. I'm from That generation. You know the one I'm talking about. The one after the one that discovered the Beatles and nonbinding sex, the one before the one where seventeen-year-olds asked to be excused from Phys. Ed. so they could launch their IPOs. Yeah, that'd be us: the Lamest Generation. Cultural anthropologists of the future will remember us primarily for nonblack tuxedos, Valerie Bertinelli, and Men at Work. Our grandfathers won World War II. We can't even tie a bow tie.

I'm not in great shape. I do, occasionally, complete one gasping lap around the reservoir. When I run, it's prose in motion. My abs are a one-pack. My arms are steamed licorice. My teeth are carved of wax. I've been compared to a redheaded Winnie the Pooh, an Oompa Loompa without the self-tanning lotion, a slightly elongated Teletubby. For one formative grade -- fifth -- I was known exclusively as "Doughboy." The first time some playground wit poked my tummy hoping to elicit a girlish giggle, it was funny. The 100th time it was less so. By the 500th time, I was developing a complex, and at 603 (I counted, oh how I counted), I entered therapy. At 607, my late father opened a glassine-windowed envelope, began a five-second argument with my mother ("What the hell is this shit?"), and therapy was concluded.

I'm defiantly average, studiously okay, the Gap of bachelors. You know how when you go into Duane Reade and there's a generic product next to the one with a logo and a memorable back story of amusing and informative TV commercials? IBUPROFEN. MOUTHWASH. ANTIHISTAMINE. That's me: the man without a brand. The one you would never pick after you won the lottery. I contain all the same ingredients, and I'm a bargain. But I have no shelf appeal. If someone saw me in your medicine chest, you'd die.

I'm thirty-two, as healthy as any other Spam-raised American male. I look pretty young. Hair is disappearing from my scalp, but fortunately it hasn't deserted me: It's just relocating to my nostrils and ears. My face -- my patriotic mug of red hair, white skin, blue eyes -- is doing okay. I have no laugh lines (what's funny?). I'm not short, not really. I stand the Minimum Acceptable Height for an Adult Male. (Some celebrities I know to be shorter than myself: Redford. Stallone. Pitt.) But the only way I could ever be labeled tall would be if I became a Starbucks beverage. I don't play sports much anymore, so I compensate by watching extra sports on TV. Australian Rules golf, anyone? Need a rundown of the favorites at this year's Tour de Luxembourg?

I have a one-bedroom apartment, a refrigerator containing (solely) beverages and condiments, a Manhattan-sized mini-microwave deployed only for popping corn, a supply of Cheez-It crumbs that I store under my sofa cushions, stacks of dusty black stereo equipment, and an increasingly avalanchable Matterhorn of CDs. (Single women in their thirties accumulate cats; I stockpile home electronics.) I've got the requisite panoply of Banana Republic shirts in assorted colors (dark blue, light blue, blue). I own forty-three T-shirts. I watch The Simpsons 3.7 times a week, and I floss 3.7 times a year. When the house lights go down before a rock concert, I am often the first to shout, "Freebird!"


Excerpted from Love Monkey by Smith, Kyle Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet 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.

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Love Monkey 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Smith's book starts out great, and I was encouraged to begin reading it based on some of the glowing reviews. I must admit that the beginning was funny and i couldnt put the book down, but towards the end the self-depricating humor turned into whining. While I would still recommend reading the book i'd take it with a grain of salt
Guest More than 1 year ago
You know how sometimes you just want a bite and you end up having a great meal? That is this book. I wanted something light going into the summer dating 'season' and can't say enough about this book and Mr. Smith's writing. He is clever and insightful and you care for him yet see why others can loathe him. In short, he is any guy who has ever dated beyond high school (or at least what we hope to be). This book is genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud, not-to-read-in-public funny. But there is a heart, and for those of questionable men who do feel we somewhere nurture a heart of gold, this encapsules part of the struggle. My copy is already on its 4th lendee (sorry about the royalties, Kyle).
Guest More than 1 year ago
He's been dubbed 'The male Bridget Jones.' You can call his debut novel Guy Lit if you wish, but gals will find it unputdownable, too - it's a rare glimpse into the male mind related with wicked humor, hip dialogue, and sharp insight. An editor at People magazine, Kyle Smith said, 'Someone has to speak up for that dwindling minority, the non-metrosexual straight male.' Speak up he did producing one of the most clever debut novels of the year. Protagonist Tom Farrell (who may, for all we know, slightly resemble the author) works at a fictional Big Apple daily, Tabloid. He's been there for ten years now, coming up with such forgettable headlines as 'The Stripping News' for an article on topless bars, and 'Sects and the City' to top an article about a new Jewish group. Distraction and love enters his life in the form of a shapely, tiny-waisted co-worker, Julia. Tom is hooked but he's not quite deft at hooking her. To this end he receives advice, support, and tongue-lashings from his buds, including Shooter, A-Rod, and Bran (a gal pal). There's a wide divide between dating and mating. Is Julia really the one? How's a guy to know? However, the year is 2001. It is summer and September is yet to come, and with it many changes. Put 'Love Monkey' at the top of your To Read list - it's not to be missed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thirty-two tears old Tom Farrell is a swinging single enjoying life in Manhattan while working as a rewrite man at Tabloid, 'America's loudest newspaper.' His job is to revise submissions into spicy tales with attention-grabbing headlines, the more outrageously conspicuous the better............................................... Tom¿s pastime is to collect and discard girlfriends at a pace that would rate a mention in Guinness if they kept such a category. His hobby besides women and sports is the Cartoon Network as he prefers to emulate the life of a young teen to that of a thirty something soul married with children. Recently Julia entered his top head and he cannot switch gears with her as he normally does with females. Still that does not stop him from thinking (with the wrong head) that he might want to end his friendship with Bran by enticing her into his bed......................... . This gender bender slick lit tale is amusing though the protagonist loses his cute image turning Tom terrific into an unsympathetic character when he pursues action with a gal pal not out of undying love and regardless of the cost to their friendship. Readers will appreciate LOVE MONKEY for placing a mirror to the chick lit sub-genre with a stag stud star, but ultimately ask what¿s it all about Farrell? .............................. Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have any sense of humor whatsoever, or have ever been smitten by a certain someone, you'll quickly be charmed by this warm, wonderfully well written story of a guy making his way through a romantic obstacle course in New York. One of the best comic novels in a very long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author is incredibly witty and has a talent for truly describing the inner battles within all of us. I would laugh out loud while reading this book on the subway. This is a MUST READ! I can't believe this is Kyle Smith's first novel. I think he will become one of this generation's best novelists.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I once saw a female literature professor say of Harlequin-style romance novels: 'What do women want? The answer's right here, in these books!' _Love Monkey_ answers the somewhat more disturbing question 'What are men thinking?' It manages to do so while being painful, embarrassing, and very, very funny all at the same time, just like life (and it's not just life here in New York, though as a part of the New York media milieu that inspired Smith, I must say he's got our number). As the hack writer hero alternately pursues his dreamgirl, schemes up fallback plans for pursuing other less-difficult women, and distracts himself with fond memories of _The Empire Strikes Back_ or unpleasant memories of gym class, we're reminded that all those postmodernisty-type writers of the past decade or so were wasting their time: real life is strange and funny and confusing enough already. Smith sticks to that, and creates the strange feeling that, as a friend of mine (yet another thirtysomething 'manboy,' as Smith dubs our kind) said, that Smith has been spying on all of us pathetic, desperate males and is finally telling the world the ugly truth. (Is it Schadenfreude if you're laughing at a version of _yourself_ on a bad date?)
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have ever lived and dated in the NYC area, you will completely relate to and enjoy this book, although I can't imagine that there is anyone out there who wouldn't find Love Monkey thoroughly amusing. I seriously laughed out loud the whole way through and even cried once or twice. Chick lit was soooo over, but Kyle Smith reinvented it. As a former New Yorker, I wish I read it back in my single days, because I would have understood a lot more about what guys are actually thinking about (other girls!). But this book also reminds us that even the most cynical, immature guy can fall in love. And I fell in love with this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this day and age of drab dates, women may be better off spending a few evenings at home curled up with Kyle Smith's Tom Farrell character. He's funny, intelligent and (though he tries hard to hide it) incredibly sexy and romantic. It makes you want to shake up some of the female characters in the book for writing him off. Smith also succeeds in making New York City the book's second most intriguing character, capturing all the sounds, smells, and excitement-in-the-air sense that is the city. So take note: there's only a few episodes of 'Sex and the City' left. Get 'Love Monkey' and ease those withdrawal pains!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A dazzling debut by a very funny and talented writer--as a fellow male member of the NYC generation between the Boomers and the Xers, this one brought back all of the memories of the exhilarating highs and the inevitable lows of the dating jungle inhabited by said Love Monkey. While it speaks to a very specific place and time, aspects of the tale are timeless, so here's hoping that this one is around for quite a while. Smith turns a phrase with the best of them; sprinkled in with his take on big picture themes are some classic witticisms out of the mouths (and, in at least one case, groins) of some unforgettable characters. To all who haven't read it yet, Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have a new friend and his name is Tom Farrell. Kyle Smith has written a character that reminds us of ourselves or someone we know well. The book is funny and has caused me to laugh out loud repeatedly with its witty observations. I strongly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is no plot here. The book just run out of steam and ends. While several parts are very funny, it isnt enough to prop this book up. It sounds like the author wrote about a funny, but pointless part of his own life...like a collection of water cooler stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I was initially taken by the idea of Love Monkey, however after reading the book felt Kyle Smith to be a truly awful writer. Despite the low price, I would have a greater feeling of satisfaction had I eaten the four dollars I spent. Save your money for the Dollar Menu folks...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kyle Smith's debut novel, with its insipid plot and self-absorbed protagonist, is pretty unlikeable if you ask me. It's badly written, for one thing. I think this reads like it was ripped from the author's journals or diaries. You want something substantial in a novel, even a more commercial one, and this one just doesn't deliver. Big thumbs down. Maybe next time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the main character of this book repeatedly calls himself a 'manboy', but the author went overboard in trying to prove this. the writing came off as a bit too immature and chauvinistic. his overall prose style was okay. it had a crisp magazine flair and was an easy read. on the otherhand, there was pretty much no plot and occasionally the lack of story became boring. i didnt like it, but i didnt hate it either.