MANRISSA MAN by Peter Van Greenaway


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A cute, preciously fragmented, simple-minded future-fantasy--about what happens when an American experiment with monkey-breeding produces the Mantissas, a breed far smarter and saner than homo sapiens. As becomes clear only with difficulty (as usual, Greenaway uses a gamut of meta-fictional, flashforward/back devices), Matthew Longmore--linguistics prof at an obscure, run-down college-inherits three super-bred Mantissa monkeys from a US government experiment that ran out of money. So Matthew does his best to teach them to speak. . . till one day the monkeys reveal their secret: they speak better than anybody around, they're full of ideas, anger (about man meddling with nature), and power. Soon, in fact, the eloquent Mantissa trio is on its way to Washington, demanding White House and Capitol Hill attention. . . while the human neanderthals react with predictable crudeness and racist anthro-centrism. And finally, since mankind is too stupid to listen to them, the monkeys liberate their fellow Mantissas, take hostages, and decimate America with its own germ-warfare stock. Some amusing moments, but too gimmicky in the telling and too oafishly old-hat in the message.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1982
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles