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Monday, July 6, 2015

Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet

If I had known that each of these stories takes a different point of view on human relationships with animals, I would've picked up Love in Infant Monkeys sooner. Shocking and sensitive all at once, Lydia Millet delivers in a concentrated short story format all the impact of her novels. Each story is a memorable mixture of fact and fiction and each gives the reader something new to think about, some aspect of the way humans act in the world and how our behavior affects the other residents of this planet.

I was appalled to learn that the title story was inspired by a real-life study and intrigued by the possibilities of Edison's obsession with his film of an elephant execution (which is now digitized for anyone to view). A story about a Komodo dragon who attacked Sharon Stone's husband becomes a meditation on the meaning of celebrity and the relative value of life.

My favorite story is "Girl and Giraffe." Here Millet presents a realistic version of the humans who worked with the lions in Born Free and what they think and feel about the animals they work with, and then proceeds to bear witness to some lion behavior that no human can understand. For me, the behavior isn't below human experience, but transcends human comprehension.

Love in Infant Monkeys is not for faint-hearted readers, surely, but is an exquisite book. But everyone else knew that already!

Novels I've Read in 2015: 
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Along the Far Shores by Kristin Gleeson

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A Kiss at Kihali by Ruth Harris

Mermaids in Paradise  by Lydia Millet

Raven Brought the Light by Kristin Gleeson

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan