A lucid, fictionalized account of an actual chimpanzee’s life, with strong ecological overtones.

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Bruno

MEMOIRS OF A CHIMPANZEE

A chimpanzee who escaped captivity and returned to his native forest narrates his story for the members of his new community.

In this novel, Kroma (Manners Maketh Man, 2014, etc.) draws on a 2006 incident in which a chimpanzee escaped from the Tacugama wildlife preserve in Sierra Leone and was later observed at the heart of a group of wild chimpanzees, apparently holding forth. Kroma imagines the life history that the ape, known as Bruno, might have been telling his listeners. Bruno, born to a group of wild chimpanzees and called Wuu-aai-yiaa, is renamed after being captured by poachers. Bruno lives as a pet with several missionary families before he is sent to Tekuyama, where he collects the life stories of his fellow inmates. The accounts of these other chimpanzees—a former scientific test subject, an American house pet, a mascot for one of the groups fighting in Sierra Leone’s civil war—form much of the narrative, until Bruno decides it is time to return to the wild. He organizes an escape, and although his compatriots eventually choose to return to captivity, he becomes part of a wild chimpanzee troop and rediscovers the skills he needs to survive in the forest. Kroma weaves information about chimpanzee habits and Sierra Leone’s recent history into the narrative, depicting apes who are aware (to the extent of musing on “the homocentric view of nature promoted by Western culture”) of their subordinate position in the human world. Although the book clearly identifies its setting as Sierra Leone and connects the chimpanzees’ experiences to that country’s recent history, there are several references to generically “African” and exotic traits (“Like most humans on the African continent, we chimpanzees are named after events, attributes, or the ancestors that our births invoke”; people meeting Tekuyama’s director, an Asian man, “can be forgiven” for assuming he is a local). But on the whole, Kroma has imagined a coherent back story for Bruno that serves as a microcosm of human-primate interactions and misunderstandings.

A lucid, fictionalized account of an actual chimpanzee’s life, with strong ecological overtones.

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5117-4427-0

Page Count: 142

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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