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GREAT APES by Will Self

GREAT APES

By Will Self

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8021-1617-5
Publisher: Grove

 Entering a Self fantasy (Grey Area, 1996, etc.) demands both a strong stomach and a readiness to experience narrative pyrotechnics, but in this second novel (after My Idea of Fun, 1994), in which an artist wakes up after a bender to discover that his entire world is now run by chimpanzees, these demands are amply rewarded. Not only is the world run by chimpanzees, but the painter Simon Dykes finds that his girlfriend has turned into a chimp. And that's not all: The increasingly frenzied painter notices that he's becoming a bit hairy as well. The ultimate mind-bender arrives with the emergency psychiatric team: There's not a human being among them. Simon goes comatose and is hauled off to the psycho ward. Enter Dr. Zack Busner, controversial but respected chimpanzee analyst, whose method includes taking his most flamboyant cases on talk shows. Busner has never seen a case like Simon's before, and he marvels at the consistency of the artist's human delusions when his charge recovers sufficiently to communicate. After all, he tells Simon, he is a chimpanzee. Whence came this odd idea that he's a human? (Humans are a sad, grubby species, condescended to by the articulate, successful chimp world.) He takes Simon into his home, a normal chimp domicile full of sub-adults, mating frenzies, and group grooming sessions, there to work intensely with his patient--and, by degrees, Simon does begin to adjust to his new reality. He still has human memories, however, and Busner, in an attempt to get to the bottom of Simon's obsession, sets out with him in tow to the missing link in the puzzle--a search leading to the heart of Africa and one of the world's few remaining populations of wild humans. Vividly imagined, extraordinarily credible, provocative and entertaining in equal measure--and the detailing of chimp/human behavior allows Self's libidinous, ferociously satirical, scatological zeal to flourish. HoooGraa! (First printing of 30,000; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour)