Mr. Thundermug: A Novel

Mr. Thundermug: A Novel

by Cornelius Medvei
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Mr. Thundermug 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
Walking into my local dealer's shop is a dangerous thing for me. I have learned to remain at the front counter and not wander about the aisles as I inevitably find books I "just have to have!" when I visit friends there. This discipline has helped me refrain from purchasing a book each visit, but it is not foolproof, as I found this book displayed at the front desk and I "just had to have it." The cover of this small, quickly read, book is an image of a Baboon, in a smoking jacket, holding a banana, with the subtitle "Mr. Thundermug is a Baboon." One can see how my interest was peaked. Mr. Medvei, according to the biographical material on the dust jacket, studied modern languages at Oxford, taught in China for 18 months and returned to England to write this well-timed adult fable. His choosing to make this tale about a baboon who "spontaneously" learns to talk and the impact that has upon society and culture is in equal parts, it seems, autobiography and social commentary. Mr. Medvei creates Mr. Thundermug, a name chosen by the baboon, as a primate who is intelligent while maintaining his simian self, even while acting with human characteristics. Mr. Thundermug is who he is, a baboon who speaks, reads, ponders but still acts like a baboon - eating insects, grooming his mate, beating his chest to communicate with his family (who cannot speak English). Such a being creates the tension of social commentary that carries the story. It is probable this fable not could have been more timely written. Mr. Medvei returning to a "home" culture after experiencing a year and a half of a totally different one in China (hence his feeling like a new comer) and the influx of immigrants into Western countries (how does one fit into a new culture) are but two of the timely indicators of the need for this story to be told. The alienation of individuals from community is pandemic in our society - the Internet, cell phones, email, instant messaging, "blue-toothing" all help create the illusion of connection but only widens the gap between people seeking to "keep in touch." This fable magnifies this isolation and desire/fear of being known in bringing one who is truly "Other" into a sharp focus in the contrast between being familiar (language, thought, manners, etc.) and alien (simian). Mr. Thundermug causes the reader to address the reality that community is relatively easy when homogenous (there is the expectation that the more homogenous are the community members are to each other the more harmony within the community). When that community is confronted withe variety, it takes genuine, committed work to be accepting of all its members and to maintain a sense of cohesion. What a community does with those it considers "other" is as definitive of that community as what it does with those within its ranks. By the end of this short tale (it could be read in an hour), Mr. Thundermug has found acceptance but at a tremendous cost. To be true to himself he must sacrifice something precious to him. To be included in society, a likewise precious sacrifice is demanded. Mr. Thundermug learns that to speak is to risk being known. These are the same choices all of us makes daily.