MONKEY DANCING by Daniel Glick


A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth
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In the wake of death and divorce, Newsweek writer Glick and his two children take to the road.

This strategy had served the author well in previous times of transition, “as an entrée into a reflective trance, as a tool of personal reinvention, as literal and metaphorical escape.” When his brother dies of cancer one year after his marriage ends, a trip around the world again seems like a good idea. Nine-year-old Zoe and thirteen-year-old Kolya encounter Indonesia and Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam, pythons and pit vipers, with an aplomb many adults would envy. Their diary entries, included in Dad’s text, show Kolya declaring, “We are barfeet in rhino shit,” and Zoe ordering her companions to “get this slimy bloodsucking viper off me.” Glick (Powder Burn, not reviewed) also intends their trip to serve as an exploration of the wild places that soothe his spiritual core, the kind of landscapes that may soon disappear under one onslaught or another along with the priceless animals they harbor. And so, in the easy voice he uses throughout, he talks to the kids about island populations, starfish scourges, and endangered creatures; he also tries to deliver history lessons to give them perspective and help to make understandable events like 9/11, which happens while they are in Cambodia. This is a very human story, balancing the local color with stories about Glick’s deceased brother, the grief that trailed when the children's mother left them, and the resulting sea change in Glick as he grapples with Kolya’s newborn interest in drugs and Zoe’s first yeast infection. It’s a fine and mordant account of experiencing things before they melt into air, stitching the remnants of a family’s old lives into a whole new cloth.

Big-hearted, pleasingly fitful narrative of the kind of journey that scours the soul of its karmic gunk. (Photos)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-58648-154-1
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2003