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by Roy Lewis

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42727-9
Publisher: Pantheon

 Humorous fantasy first published in Britain in 1960; rediscovered, it became a bestseller in Italy; this is the first US edition. Human evolution as a kind of domestic situation comedy? Well, Lewis's yarn--an autobiographical narrative by an ape-man named Ernest--recounts the efforts of Father, the leader and inventive genius, to evolve his tribe into the dominant species--preferably before the end of the Pleistocene. Weary of being terrorized by fierce carnivores with big teeth, Father obtains fire from a nearby volcano and transforms the lives of the tribe. Soon they're driving bears out of all the best caves, inventing cooking, and taking a break from endless flint-chipping. Then Father, with his eye on social evolution, forces his sons to steal wives from a neighboring tribe. Meanwhile, Uncle Vanya stubbornly refuses to leave the trees and condemns the whole enterprise; Uncle Ian returns from his travels in China, only to fall off an unfortunately unevolved horse and break his neck; and Ernest and his brothers finally lose patience when Father gives away the secret of making fire--they wanted a monopoly. So when Father invents the bow and arrow, thus threatening the jobs of traditional spear hunters, the brothers decide it's time to get rid of Father. Broadly amusing, though it's impossible to predict how well this comedy will travel.