"Stark and compelling . . . Rigorously unsentimental yet suffused with emotion: possibly the best work yet from an always stimulating writer." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Katharine Weber’s Still Life With Monkey is a beautifully wrought paean of praise for the ordinary pleasures taken for granted by the able-bodied. In precise and often luminous prose, with intelligence and tenderness, Weber’s latest novel examines the question of what makes a life worth living." Washington Post
"[A] deeply but delicately penetrating novel." New York Times Book Review
"Weber’s unsentimental and poignant examination of what does and does not make life worth living is a heartbreaking triumph." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A brilliantly crafted novel, brimming with heart."Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
Duncan Wheeler is a successful architect who savors the quotidian pleasures in life until a car accident leaves him severely paralyzed and haunted by the death of his young assistant. Now, Duncan isn’t sure what there is left to live for, when every day has become “a broken series of unsuccessful gestures.”
Duncan and his wife, Laura, find themselves in conflict as Duncan’s will to live falters. Laura grows desperate to help him. An art conservator who has her own relationship to the repair of broken things, Laura brings home a highly trained helper monkeya tufted capuchin named Ottolineto assist Duncan with basic tasks. Duncan and Laura fall for this sweet, comical, Nutella-gobbling little creature, and Duncan’s life appears to become more tolerable, fuller, and funnier. Yet the question persists: Is it enough ?
Katharine Weber is a masterful observer of humanity, and Still Life with Monkey , full of tenderness and melancholy, explores the conflict between the will to live and the desire to die.
|Publisher:||Dry, Paul Books, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Katharine Weber is the author of five acclaimed novels True Confections , Triangle , The Little Women , The Music Lesson , and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear and a memoir, The Memory Of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities. Objects in Mirror , The Music Lesson , and The Little Women were all named Notable Books by The New York Times Book Review ; two of her novels were long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and The Music Lesson has been published in twelve languages. Katharine holds the Thomas Chair in creative writing at Kenyon College.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Gorgeously rendered novel about love and loss, compassion, and humor, STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY absolutely wow-ed me. STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY might not be the first book I would have gravitated toward--but I am so glad I did! Some books select YOU and this is absolutely one of them; I found it immensely moving, well-developed, and poignant. Duncan Wheeler is a 37 year old successful architect (swoon!) married to a woman who is in art conservation (also, swoon) and they are trying to have a baby...but... Duncan and his intern are in a fatal car accident one day coming home from a site visit. His young intern dies and Duncan is left a quadriplegic, in a wheelchair. Duncan isn't sure if he's truly 'lucky' as everyone says...everyday is a fractured attempt at living the life he once had. Duncan's will to live falters and his wife, Laura, reaches out to the Primate Institute of New England in effort to obtain a 'helper monkey' for Duncan. Maybe having Ottoline's 'helping hands' around, Duncan won't feel so dependent on others, perhaps his faith in life will be restored. And for awhile, it does. Ottoline is delightful and charming and quite intelligent. She loves Nutella and peanut butter and is tiny and cute. But Duncan is struggling. He can no longer do many (most) things he once did--though he can consult with his architecture partners--still, life has been reduced to a revolving door of PCAs (personal care assistants), an active mind but no way to actualize his dreams. The writing is absolutely gorgeous: poetic, yet stark. Characters are sympathetic, well-developed, and made a strong impression. I've been thinking about this book long after I finished the last page and sharing insights with others-- it definitely sparked a conversation or two and would be excellent reading for a book club. In terms of comps, readers of Jodi Piccoult 's work will appreciate the 'big issues' controversy(ies). It also reminded me a bit of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE (Tayari Jones) in terms of 'what is a marriage,' and also a similar writing style. Finally, STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY is resonate with Kathryn Craft's THE FAR END OF HAPPY. L. Lindsay Always with a Book
I was intrigued by the clever title as it refers to a helper monkey, a tufted capuchin named Ottoline who is trained to help a 37-year-old paraplegic man. Duncan Wheeler is a successful architect who was severely injured in a car accident which killed his young assistant. This isn't my usual reading fare. As I read more of the new lifestyle that architect Duncan Wheeler must adjust to, I kept asking myself if I was enjoying the book and if I was really going to finish it. But, in spite of the very nuts-and-bolts details of living in a wheelchair as a C-6 spinal cord injury victim, I continued to read. Yes, it got intense, but not graphic. What kept me engaged was the excellent writing and the realistic three-dimensional characters. Author Katherine Weber skillfully described not only Duncan's state of mind and his life both before and after the accident, but she explored the thoughts, hopes, and sense of humor of his wife Laura as well as Duncan's twin brother Gordon. These three characters were so honestly and vividly portrayed that at times I had to remind myself it was a novel and not a true story. So what about Ottoline, the adorable little monkey? Every time she is in the story, she steals the limelight. The concept of a helper monkey is fascinating to me, and this little furry girl has such personality! Plus she is adorable, comical, and sweet. This is a thought-provoking novel, and one that I will remember for quite a while. As the book cover notes, "Still Life With Monkey, full of tenderness and melancholy, explores the conflict between the will to live and the desire to die." I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.