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Love in Infant Monkeys

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  607 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
Lions, rabbits, monkeys, pheasants—all have shared the spotlight and tabloid headlines with famous men and women. Sharon Stone’s husband’s run-in with a Komodo dragon, Thomas Edison’s filming of an elephant’s electrocution and David Hasselhoff’s dogwalker all find a home in Love in Infant Monkeys. At the rare intersections of wilderness and celebrity, Lydia Millet hilariou ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Soft Skull Press (first published August 1st 2009)
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Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia MilletBanana by Dan KoeppelBanana Cultures by John SoluriThe Fish That Ate the Whale by Rich CohenPenis Genius by Jordan LaRousse
1st out of 77 books — 5 voters
Breeding by Jenny DavidsonThe Idler's Glossary by Joshua GlennGet Your War On by David ReesOmega the Unknown by Jonathan LethemPersonal Days by Ed Park
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14th out of 36 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,578)
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K.D. Absolutely
Mar 31, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it it was ok
Recommended to K.D. by: Pulitzer 2010
This book lost to "Tinkers" by Paul Harding in the Pulitzer Award for Fiction in 2010. As I've read both, I think I know why. This book has a more innovative concept but the jurors probably were not yet ready for it. In fact, this is my first time to read something like this. The book is composed of 10 short stories featuring celebrities and their encounters with animals, pets or otherwise. I understand that these encounters are based on real-life news. In fact, when I googled the title, I came ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 23, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
Love the title of this book and the cover. The stories are unusual, mixing different circumstances and people with well-known figures.

The first story features Madonna and I fund it to be quite humorous and the thoughts she has match how I think of Madonna. I liked the story with Tesla, he is a fascinating man, and I find this story quite touching. I also loved the last story which was the shortest, called The Walking Bird, and though strange was quite complete for so short a story.

Well written,
Jan 22, 2010 Liz rated it liked it
One of the reasons that I frequently hate on contemporary fiction is that anything high-concept tends to turn me off. A clever and/or quirky conceit does not guarantee that a work of fiction will be well-written, and I frequently find the gimick being used to be a distraction if the writing is, in fact, passable. This collection of short stories by Lydia Millet is, indeed, high-concept and it inspired mixed feelings in me. The concept is particularly cloying: Each story in the collection involve ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Zach rated it it was amazing
Any collection that starts with a story told from the perspective of Madonna hunting pheasant ("A woman with a gun was kind of a man in girl's clothes, a transvestite with an external dildo."), I will probably love. And while that first story is probably the least like anything I've seen before which, for me, is always a pleasant discovery, the other stories step away from cleverness toward humanity, and it's there that the real rewards are found. Humanity is examined through a semi-tame lion an ...more
Paolo Latini
Apr 23, 2013 Paolo Latini rated it it was ok
Shelves: americans
Siamo tutti animali e qualcuno un po' di più

Lyida Millet, FYI, è una scrittrice americana nota per il carattere eclettico del suo stile narrativo, che va dai pastiche grotteschi e surreali di George Bush, Dark Prince of Love (Soft Skull, 2000—dove si racconta della passione quasi-erotica di una giostraia per George Bush senior) e del picaresco Everyone’s Pretty (Soft Skull, 2005—che segue le disavventure di un ex-magnate della pornografia), a testi caratterizzati da stile e contenuti più poetici
May 27, 2011 Lee rated it it was ok
Wanted to love this but pretty quickly found it too gimmicky, too similarly toned, too clipped syntax-wise for me, especially too easily/cheaply emotionally manipulative (animal abuses). Abounding celebrities could have been more fun -- felt like a not particularly imaginative writing constraint. Liked aspects of a few of the stories -- the first two thirds of the Madonna story and the opening of the title story -- but otherwise I was always aware that I was reading creative writing thanks to th ...more
Jan 12, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
As I was about to check out at the library, I saw this book on the shelf of librarians' picks. I recalled that I had just seen that my friend Beth rated the book on goodreads. I was pretty sure she had given it a good rating, but I realized later that I wasn't positive about that. Still, after I finished another book, I picked it and gave it a shot. At first I was a little disappointed - I hadn't realized it was short stories. I am not a big fan of short story collections. Or, I guess, of shor ...more
Richard Leis
Jan 25, 2015 Richard Leis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Lydia Millet explores through her shorts stories in the collection Love in Infant Monkeys the harm we cause animals and also the ridiculousness of celebrity. Only one of these stories is outright fantasy; the rest have as their initiating kernel a true story about a person and animals. She crafts from the truth fictions that are both darkly humorous and emotionally wrought. Every story is great and I particularly loved the unexpected transcendence of the animals in "Girl and Giraffe," the unreso ...more
Feb 02, 2014 Christy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
I’ve been hoping to find a contemporary US fiction writer like Lydia Millet -- although I haven’t been looking very hard, I guess. I’ve realized that, almost alone among my bookworm friends, I just don’t read that much contemporary fiction, and I’m not likely to change now. Cervantes said the point of literature was to “please and instruct” equally, and I have to say I’m just not feeling that from my compatriots much these days. But exceptions prove the rule and so (thanks to a goodreads connect ...more
Louise Chambers
Dec 08, 2009 Louise Chambers rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This is a haunting, sometimes disturbing, imaginative collection of short stories; animals and people share the stage, and the animals force us to look at our own animality. We can no longer cling to our delusion that we above all of the other creatures on Earth.
Joan Winnek
Feb 13, 2010 Joan Winnek rated it liked it
Peculiar little book. The cover illustration is so realistic I wondered who had left a banana on my bedside table.
Jun 11, 2016 Drew rated it really liked it
Lydia Millet's collection of short stories got me to thinking: If Homer were alive today, might he not be writing about Sharon Stone, Madonna, David Hasselhoff and other bigger-than-life contemporaries in Hollywood? And what telling event might he pull from these ridiculously exalted lives to give us a quick assessment at who and what we are today? That Millet does so always referencing animals in some sly manner within each wicked tale is frankly ingenious. For in some way, we too are the bysta ...more
Christopher MacMillan
Sep 08, 2011 Christopher MacMillan rated it it was amazing
So when I had first heard of this book, I thought it was going to be a silly, light-hearted romp about celebrities and their pets, that would be a laugh-a-minute. While Lydia Millet did indeed write a book that is funny, I was stunned to find how much complexity, intelligence, depth, and - especially - melancholy are found in each one of these simple stories.

Carefully composed to be concise and easy-to-read, Millet presents to us a surge of emotion, morals, and symbolism, with each one of her sh
Oct 03, 2010 Johnny rated it really liked it
As many of my friends know, I tend to love the Pulitzer winners. Love in Infant Monkeys was a finalist this year along with In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (which I'm slated to read in December) and runner up to the severely disappointing Tinkers. I hadn't read anything on Millet book, so I was pleasantly surprised upon reading her opening chapter, a short story titled "Sexing the Pheasant" in which Madonna (yes, that Madonna) shoots a pheasant out of the sky during a hunting trip with husband Guy ...more
Enrique Dante Bouchot
Mar 19, 2013 Enrique Dante Bouchot rated it did not like it
Never mind the formula of springing stories to life using real life factoids about celebrities and animals. Some have found that formula gimmicky, I think it was contriving, and didn't really mind it. My problem is that I feel the stories, or at least most of them, are lacking in depth. A great example is the final story in the book, "Walking Bird", which left me wondering "Is this it?", I never really understood what was the point of writing it. Other than "Sir Henry", there was not a single st ...more
Derek Emerson
Nov 22, 2009 Derek Emerson rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-books-read

Lydia Millet has received a lot of praise for her work and is seen by many as one of the best writer's in the U.S. Stepping into her world for the first time with her collection of stories, Love in Infant Monkeys, shows a writer willing to take risks in her material. The collection revolves around animals, be they pets, circus elephants, or even the lions from the movie Born Free. Millet further layers the collection with real life celebrities or historical figures so in the course of the book w
Allanah Osborn
Jun 19, 2013 Allanah Osborn rated it liked it
Love in Infant Monkeys is a collection of short stories all relating tales of well known people and their often humorous interactions with animals.

I think I have a mild case of OCD because despite the fact that they are short stories, I read the book cover to cover, beginning at the first one and then reading them in order. I do it with all short story collections...

I found the first tale, Sexing the Pheasant, rather dull and boring to read but despite this dissapointing start, the book quickly
May 22, 2013 David rated it it was ok
I recently played a modern role playing game called Fiasco which is sort of an exercise in cooperative storytelling -- you invent characters and then choose relationships or objects or places that bind the characters and give them motivations. As you play the game, you iteratively invent a fiction about your characters. It's a fascinating exercise, but not something I'm super eager to do again.

Anyway, this collection of stories feels like it was borne of a similar exercise. Choose a historical
Feb 22, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
Love in Infant Monkeys reminded me why I don't read short stories. While I definitely got the impression that Millet is a good writer, I never connected with any of the characters in the stories. A good short story will leave me wanting - wanting more time with the characters, wanting more information on what happened, etc. In this book, there wasn't a single story where I really longed for more time with any of the characters.

As I thought back on this book, I realized that one reason I didn't e
Beaird Glover
Jun 08, 2016 Beaird Glover rated it really liked it
Excellent with the word choices. This is the most stark story-telling I think I have ever seen. It's a very short book, but she manages to get an emotion across with almost all of these short stories. It's a bit much on the animal cruelty, the cat mutilations and so on. There's no end to what awful things we can do to humans in our fiction, but when we resort to hurting animals, it makes me doubt the author's usefulness as a human. Otherwise very good.
Mike W
Dec 14, 2013 Mike W rated it liked it
Love in Infant Monkeys was a 2010 Pulitzer Fiction finalist so it probably goes without saying that the book is well written. The book is actually a collection of short stories, each of which follows the theme of involving a well known figure and an animal. Madonna shooting a pheasant, Noam Chomsky donating a hamster cage, Thomas Edison electrocuting an elephant in 1903, and the list goes on. Millet injects a lot of humor into the stories, even those that are on the melancholy side, and the book ...more
bazılarını okumak çok acı verse de hayvanlarla ilgili gerçek kahramanlara sahip bu öyküler insana ne "pislik" bir tür olduğunu hatırlatıyor. gerçek kahramanlar derken Madonna, Tesla gibi pop şarkıcısından bilim insanına kadar uzanan bir liste var :)
neyse ki Lydia Millet mizahı eksik etmiyor da hayvanlara yaptıklarımızın ağırlığından ezilip yok olma isteği az da olsa unutuluyor.
Jun 07, 2010 Sally added it
This is more a 3.5 star rating--I appreciate the astute voice in these stories, but they seem, at times, devoid of genuine feeling. I appreciate the animals that populate the stories, and not so much the humans. perhaps that was a very intentional clever thing that millet aimed for. my favorite stories were "girl and giraffe", "love in infant monkeys", and "the lady and the dragon", which was very, very funny. the last one, "walking bird", was also oddly poignant, more so than most of the middle ...more
Aug 19, 2013 Gary rated it really liked it
Deadpan economical sentences that take no prisoners.
Alternating stores about animals and celebrities that are deadly satirical or heart rending. "Lesbian separatist theorist Valencia-Sven has taken this bold hypothesis even further.." -that Thomas Edison had a homosexual relationship with his "man-servant". We find out that Thomas had a kind of fixation on a certain elephant in "Thomas Edison and Vasil Gorakov". In "The Lady and the Dragon", a ten foot Komodo lizard comes between a Sharon Ston
ria k
Mar 30, 2012 ria k rated it liked it
- lead to many 'what ifs' which were quite comical
- several blocks where the narrators' thoughts are very agreeable (Page 34 "it was a free afternoon...") and while at the same time quite obvious it's like Lydia Millet was able to put put together coherently the thoughts I've traversed upon many times(and therefore was familiar with) but never able to word properly
- and perhaps because I didn't 'understand' the theme, devices, etc. but there's lots of room left for individual interpretations -
Jul 05, 2016 Peter rated it really liked it
I saw a brief essay about writing in this era of non-writers by Lydia Millet on Salon recently, and it was so good, I grabbed a bunch of her books. This is a collection are very insightful, and at times bitingly sharp, essays. Millet is like a modern Swift, taking on the coldness of humanity by exposing the creepy, yet sad, side of its clichéd heroes.
Frances Levy
Mar 12, 2015 Frances Levy rated it liked it
I rate this at 3.5. Millet's writing is beautiful, deep, and enchanting. Each of the stories is about an actual famous person and their interactions, one way or another, with an animal. I wanted to love this book, and did, in fact, like some of the stories very much, the title story, "Love in Infant Monkeys," just broke my heart. I realize that Harlow's experiments really did happen and it was a long time ago, but my sadness for the monkeys was almost too much for me to bear.

I don't think this b
May 11, 2010 Schuyler rated it really liked it
That's what I'm talking about, Lydia! You totally redeemed yourself from How the Dead the Dream, which I'm sorry, but that was a little disappointing. But this! This collection is worthy of praise. Don't listen to all the sayers of nay, talking shit about your 'gimmick' of celebrities and animals. It's something different and you carried it through each story beautifully. Congrats on the Pulitzer nod (or is it a nod if you win? Maybe you just got a Pulitzer 'wink'). Also, is it pronounced 'Mill- ...more
Jul 10, 2016 Jaime rated it liked it
This collection of short stories has a peculiar mix of celebrities and animals. Some border on charming, such as Sexing the Pheasant (Madonna goes pheasant hunting and has a hilarious inner dialogue, complete with congratulating herself for using proper British slang) and The Lady and the Dragon (a Sharon Stone look-a-like is romanced with a Komodo dragon). Others, particularly the title story, Love in Infant Monkeys are disturbing and leave a bad taste in your mouth. So I guess I didn’t love it ...more
May 18, 2016 Mysteryfan rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Closer to two and a half stars. I liked the concept. Animals and pop culture go together pretty well, whether it's Paris with a pocket pup or saving the whales. The animals featured in this series of short stories are more mundane. Madonna's interior monologue after shooting a pheasant, Edison's reaction to executing an elephant, monkeys the subject of various experiments. Mostly the stories were melancholy. The quality was uneven. It's a fast read.
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  • The Collected Stories
  • Leaving the Land
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • The Manikin
  • Rabbis and Wives
  • All Souls
  • Paradise
  • Shakespeare's Kitchen
  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
  • Persian Nights
  • Whites
  • The Feud
  • Servants of the Map
  • Mr. Ives' Christmas
  • Jernigan
  • Mean Spirit
  • At Weddings and Wakes
  • The Quick and the Dead
Lydia Millet is the author of the novels Sweet Lamb of Heaven , Mermaids in Paradise , Ghost Lights (a New York Times Notable Book), Magnificence (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize) and other books. Her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.
More about Lydia Millet...

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