I got this one off the library shelf (Audiobook) mostly because of the title and cover. I think I wanted to also know something about Francine Prose as an author because she’s part of the literary aether right now and was just curious in general. And because her name is Prose.
The structure of this novel is sort of like a tag-team of literary connection points circulating around a specific play off-Broadway and stemming from a specific performance of that play. Mr. Monkey is the name of a children’s novel written initially as an adult novel written as an allegory for Vietnam by a veteran living in Queens. This novel was written in the 1970s, and reminds me of a few different novels I know about from that era, like Forrest Gump and books by William Kotzwinkle and a few others. The play/musical that has been adapted from that novel is a vapid waste of time and money.
The novel is told as a kind of floating omniscient narrator who follows from character to the next in longish sections. We start with one of the actresses, then it branches off to one of the co-actors, and then to one and then another of the audience members, one a little boy, and then that boy’s teacher, and then the author of the novel who the teacher accidentally meets at a blind date, and then the waiter who serves then and on and on a few more times.
Overall the novel is kind of funny and kind of touching. It’s not a very memorable novel at all, but it’s also not bad either. It’s just kind of pleasant and decently well-done, and I think it will just fade from consciousness, both mine and the collective, until somebody turns it into a play 30 years from now.