A comedy of male menopause that serves up a good deal of authentic southern banter--as it wanders plotlessly across the swamps and backroads of Georgia. Elk Adderholt, suffering from a ""sickness"" of the spirit, deserts his middle-class life (consisting of his wife Anne, his next-door lover Shirley, and a graduate fellowship in anthropology) when he discovers that his wife is probably having an affair and that his graduate professor has stolen his research. Elk's companion on his journey south is Mitylene, the subject of his research--a chimpanzee who speaks Ameslan (the American hand system for the deaf). Mity has told Elk that there's a treasure in the Florida swamp, but Elk gets sidetracked in Georgia by his cousin Shug (who takes tourists into the Okefenokee Swamp); by his father (who falls into a hog vat and drowns); and by a gaggle of fish stories, shaggy-dog instances, adventure stories, and nostalgic reveries (including flashback after flashback to his former life with Anne and Shirley). The monkey is a bunch of fun, and the living is easy (Elk's protestations to the contrary): once he gets his father buried (despite a swarm of bees), chews the fat with Mazie (his first love), and helps Cousin Shug steal back some Indian bronze cups for a swamp tribe, he leaves Mity with a band of wild Florida chimps and decides to stay in the South--where he belongs. A baggy memory novel full of local southern lore, good-humored predicaments, and lots of driving around. Little (Parthian Shot, 1975; In the Village of the Man, 1978) also manages to establish a successful elegiac tone without overindulging in the obligatory comparisons between the New South and the Old.