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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  853 ratings  ·  78 reviews

In this luminous story of family life--the first novel by Susan Minot, author of the highly acclaimed Evening--the seven Vincent children follow their Catholic mother to Mass and spend Thanksgiving with their father's aging parents who come from a world of New England priviledge. As they grow older, they meet with the perplexing lives of adults. Susan Mi...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 8th 2000 by Vintage Books (first published May 14th 1986)
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Marissa Ovick
A book I reread once a year. Some excerpts from other reviews:

"Not since J. D. Salinger has an American writer so feelingly evoked the special affections and loyalties that may develop among children in a large family."--The New York Times Book Review

"Striking and original.... Minot chronicles the mundane and miraculous moments that characterize family life, in prose that is exactingly realistic, yet delicately lyrical.... Few novels have so powerfully displayed the collective unity--and joy--of...more
RH Walters
Alcohol, drugs and religion allow this family to navigate their privileged life with what comes across as indifference, but the undercurrent of pain and alienation cuts with sudden force. The prose is immaculate, but the book has no transformation except for the inevitable tragedies of growing up and dying.
Kelsey Fitzpatrick
Monkeys by Susan Minot, Vintage books 1986, New York

Susan Minot’s, "Monkeys" combines the struggles and triumphs of growing up with a large family, along with the incessant suffering of loosing a loved one.

I am embarrassed to confess that I had not heard of Susan Minot until reading “Lust” in our writing course textbook. However, I am ecstatic that her captivating short stories lead me to take interest in her first novel, "Monkeys". After doing some research, I found that in 1987 "Monkeys" won...more
Sarah Schulz
Monkeys – Susan Minot, Vintage books 1986, New York

“Monkeys”, but Susan Minot, is a novel that consists of a thriving Irish-Catholic family living in Massachusetts during the 1960s and 1970s. The novel indicates the hardships of growing up with a large family, as well as highlighting the jubilation of an admiral family unit working together cohesively to overcome the pains of maturation as well as the loss of a loved one.

The first chapter of Monkeys, “Hiding”, begins with the Mum (Rose Vincent)...more
Nicholas Lizardi
7 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed

“’You can get a new wife,’ Gus said...’You can’t get another mother.’” The book Monkeys was written by Susan Minot and copyrighted in 1986. The book is about an English family of four girls, three boys, and their two parents: Caitlin, Sophie, Delilah, Gus, Sherman, Chicky, Minnie, Dad and Mum. Minot begins the first chapter in first person point as told by Sophie, the second youngest, then transitions into a narrator. The story explains the life of the Vincen...more
Christina Campbell
Dysfunctional Monkeys
Susan Minot Monkeys 1986

Susan Minot’s Monkeys set in the late 1960’s throughout the 1970’s Boston; the Vincent family lived there in a world separate from their own. It is the original depiction of family struggles, trials, love and loss. Starting with the first chapter, each chapter is separated into different interconnected aspects of the Vincent family life. Minot takes her readers on a journey of the Vincent family, a rather large family with seven kids and many obstac...more
Natasha Martinez
There is nothing stronger than the bond between family.

Monkeys by Susan Minot. Vintage Books, New York, 1986.

In Monkeys, Susan Minot explores with startling honesty the tragedies and blessing that can affect a single family. Although their shortcomings and faults could classify them as any other fictional family, what makes this particular family so well rounded and fascinating is the powerful sense of love and loyalty that keeps them tied to one another.
Meet the Paines - a family that takes “...more
Betsy VanSweden
The novel Monkeys by Susan Minot provides wonderfully minimalistic prose that allows the reader to relate certain choppy situations to their own family life both throughout childhood and as adults. The style of the novel tends to jump from scene to scene which I found productive in this novel, though it has not been in others, because by the time the reader finishes the novel they are left with almost a collage of incidents which are very easily relatable and thus one feels as though this family...more
Unlike the works we’ve read, Susan Minot’s Monkeys focuses on a single family instead of a town or a street. Told in chronological order, the stories span thirteen years, from 1966 to 1979, and we see the same cast of characters throughout, which is exactly what’s unifying the collection. After examining the interesting point of view Minot uses in this work, I’ll try to answer if this is a novel or a short story cycle.

The book’s point of view, though it changes from story to story, remains ancho...more
Chris Blocker
There are writers who make mistakes. If their words were a house, some measurements might be askew, some paint could be found on the carpet, perhaps a door doesn't open just right. It's bound to happen, and readers should be forgiving of those writers who blunder occasionally.

There are also writers who make mistakes. Big ones. They pour the foundation for their house without noticing their own feet are right in the middle of it. They bury themselves in their stupidity, and one can't help but scr...more
I originally read this book many years ago and was blown away by the subtle story telling. How can an author tell a story that leaves the reader to fill in the gaps? And how can that story seem so rich in spite of the sparse prose? Also, how close can an author get to autobiography and still call it fiction? This read was less "monumental" for me but no less satisfying. The family in Monkeys is fascinating in the ways that they are and are not like other family groupings. The seven children are...more
I hate books that are blurbed with a comparison to Catcher in the Rye. Just hate it. The reality is, these are never really like Catcher, it's the reviewer/publisher trying to cash in on the universality of Salinger's book (and by "universality" I mean that it seem that 99% of all Americans have had to read/analyze the text).

On to Monkeys... it's more like Lark Rise to Candleford than Catcher: small slices of life with almost nothing happening so you have to create the plot in your own mind. It'...more
I'm not sure what to think of this, it WAS a fast read, thank goodness for that after trudging through Pillars of the Earth. I needed that! I wish I would have remembered before I started that this is not necessarily a novel, but a "work of literature" of short stories spanning a family's life through the years. Susan Minot's writing in this book has you needing to read between the lines to get the full story. I much prefer an author that tells me as it is, and tells me beautifully. I do think t...more
The most interesting thing for me about Monkeys is that the length of the reviews on this site is directly proportional to the number of stars the reviewer gave. The 4 and 5 star reviewers have written long paragraphs in support of their rating, the 3 star reviewers have a few sentences, and those who gave two stars mostly did not write anything. My conclusion is that this was one of those books that either resonated with you, that you connected with, and so was memorable and comment-worthy. Or,...more
OBVIOUSLY this was a must-read in my high-school, because it fit all my teachers' perameters for a bona fide "good book":

(1) The father is an alcoholic.

(2) The mother is neurotic and suicidally depressed.

(3) The children blame themselves.

(4) Principal characters die at the end, just when they could be redeemed.

Then we watched "The Great Santini," which is also about a dysfunctional nuclear family, but the movie's even BETTER, because a nice young man is shot and killed in his trailer and his rac...more
Michael Stein
Had to read this book in high school. My least favorite book I've ever read. Very cliche, dull, and unimaginative.
Lisa Waggner
I work at a library and as I was shelving books, I noticed this one had a quote on front that said Susan Minot's writing was very similar to J.D. Salinger. They didn't lie.

This book really made me laugh and cry. It made me remember what it was like to be a kid and grow up with siblings. It was interesting watching each character grow up and develop personalities, whereas when they were younger, it was just a blend of monkeys. Susan Minot had such a wonderful way of writing. It was simple, yet s...more
Beautiful writing. I really liked this book
Mar 11, 2012 Susann rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susann by: Sarah
Shelves: re-read
Thought this might be a contender to be weeded from my shelves, but now I think it's going to stay. I like that it walks the line between being a novel and being a collection of short stories. From the first page, you know that Minot gets childhood. As she describes the family bustling to get out the door to church:
"Sherman ripples by, coat flapping, and Mum grabs him by the hood, reeling him in, and zips him up with a pinch at his chin."

With each reading, I like to play 'Which Child Is The Most...more
Spare elegant portrayal of childhood and family. Reminiscent of Tillie Olsen in how she evokes time and place as well as how there is not one word out of place. Some people describe this as a book about a severely dysfunctional family--I thought it was primarily about family. I could relate to it (in a way that I could not relate to Glass Castle or Bastard Out of Carolina) although my own family was very different than any of those. I cannot believe that this book had escaped my notice before it...more
A collection of interrelated short stories about a family that is eventually shattered by the possible suicide or accidental death of the mother. It's a fabulous portrait of family relationships. In one story the inattentive father comes home from work; mom has decided to play a joke on him by hiding in the closet with all the kids, but dad fails to even notice. Devastating little details like that all the way through, and a great book to study for how to communicate a lot with just a little.
I think this was one of the top selling books ever at the Three Lives bookstore in the village. Is that store still there?

Also: if everyone who ever listened to the Velvet Underground in their heyday started a band (that´s the cliche)...then every student who ever read this book in college attempted to write a book. Hemingway meets Virginia Woolf (one critic made this approximation) is hard to pull off, but Minot does it. Who writes better about childhood? Very few.
truly beautiful writing. i read this one in a couple of hours and wished it never ended. i mean. i shut the book and took a deep breath. and then breathed again. there is something to the minimalist approach here that really worked for me. she paints with these broad brushstrokes that captures the feelings of the family well. she had me when the father popped open a beer can. a simple sound that in her hand became a thunderclap. nice.
Tamara Collins
This has to be hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. I read it today, choosing it at random, this morning from the stacks at the local public library.

Monkeys is powerfully crafted with its minimalist prose and the chapters are nine vignettes. Each a story onto their own. The family is realistic and parts of the story are laugh out loud funny others will make your heart feel heavy.
While the book is well written, using precise snatches of detail to draw vivid sketches of the settings and characters, this novel told in short stories left too many gaps and undeveloped characters. The caring relationships between the siblings is a bright point, but overall the book is fairly depressing with its abundance of troubled characters and hints of more troubles to come.
I wanted more...
I adored this book even while it broke my heart. Reminded me of JD Salinger's work. It's very short and in fact feels like a collection of short stories. The vignettes chronicle the lives of seven siblings in a chaotic Massachusetts family and its disintegration after a tragic accident. Funny, poignant, and fascinating. I couldn't put this book down.
I didn't think this book was good at all! It was really boring and nothing happened. I actually skimmed way ahead which I never do. The problems were: Too many characters for to short a book. You didn't care about any of them at all. The story was just mediocre - there wasn't really a point to it and you really didn't relate to it at all.
Lindsay Loughlin
This book is praised for its simplicity, but I guess the simplicity is lost on me because I was left wanting more. I felt like I never got attached to any of the characters except for the could you not love a woman who is trying to raise 7 children with an alcoholic husband. Overall, its a good book - I just wanted it to be longer.
Mary ellen
Did not enjoy this book AT ALL. I would have quit reading, but it was short and I'm way behind on my reading challenge. They compared this author to Sallinger? Really? I compare her to my 5th grade students. The only reason i gave it 2 stars instead of 1 is because the writing itself was not horrible.
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Susan Minot is an award-winning novelist and short story writer whose books include Monkeys, Folly, Lust & Other Stories, and Evening, which was adapted into the feature film of the same name starring Meryl Streep. Minot was born in Boston and raised in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, attended Brown University, and received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She curren...more
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