THE CHEESE MONKEYS by Chip Kidd

THE CHEESE MONKEYS

A Novel in Two Semesters
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sheer charm <\b>most of the way in debut fiction by acclaimed book-cover artist Kidd, associate director of jackets at Knopf.

So, what are cheese monkeys<\b>? Back in 1957, Nameless the Narrator has little idea what college means and so chooses an art major as the path of least hardship. When State U beds him down three-to-a-room, he takes up sleeping on a mattress in the art room, where plump Dottie Spang teaches Introduction to Drawing. He soon falls for talented, outspoken, Salingeresque cutie-pie Himillsy H. Dodd, a whisky drinker who drops him with such exotica as “McGreet” and the “loove” and tells him Dottie Spang “couldn’t teach a piece of shit how to stink.” The Venus de Milo? “She’s a woman as men want her: a nice set of knockers and no fists or fingernails to defend them. You’re all pigs.” What does she think of the Dixie chick Maybelle Lee in their art class? “She’s a birthday cake with legs.” This trio’s intellectual explosion comes with Introduction to Commercial Art, which their teacher, Winter Sorbeck, instantly tells them is a misnomer: the class is Introduction to Graphic Design. “Commercial Art tries to make you buy <\b>things. Graphic Design gives <\b>you ideas.” Sorbeck blazes with staggeringly intense ideas—GOOD IS DEAD<\b>—that joyously burn up the page. He is worth any reader’s time, his sadism too wonderful to mangle here. How best can you thumb a ride with only a sheet of paper and a marker? Try: I AM NOT ARMED<\b>. That’s an idea Himmilsy comes up with when Sorbeck takes the whole class out and makes them put ideas into action on a stingingly cold winter day, the students one by one stopping cars with a graphic design held aloft. Some later scenes remain problematic. But, winterized, the students soon see everything everywhere in Graphic Design<\b>, as will you when you . . . .

. . . suck brains with a genius who really is a genius: that is, when you Read This Book.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2001
ISBN: 0-7432-1492-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2001




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