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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,454 ratings  ·  132 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
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 8th 2000 by Vintage (first published May 14th 1986)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,454 ratings  ·  132 reviews

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Diane Barnes
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one ended strong but had a weak beginning. A matter of staying with the story long enough to get the subtleties of family life. Minot is wonderful at the details of glances and comments between characters who know each other well, as this big family of seven siblings do. Written in separate chapters spanning 12 years in the history of this family, the readers are left to figure out some things for themselves. The first few chapters left me cold, the last 5 had me sympathizing with these kid ...more
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hang on, gotta get my face cleaned up. It’s a wreck. If you love family, the good, the bad and the’s a wonderful but emotional book simply about family dynamics. As most people know, family dynamics are rarely simple.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
A quick, brutally sad little story. Susan Minot offers up a thinly-veiled autobiography of growing up in a large Northeastern household. It's a collection of interwoven short stories as much as a novel, and fans of minimalist language will find a lot to love. Each chapter builds up a sense of trust and family connectedness only to undermine it through alcoholism, death, or simple lack of communication. It's a deeply sad story at it's core, and not really my sort of writing. But it's often rather ...more
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book is often lauded for its sparse and lyrical prose, I felt it was simply lacking in depth.
While reading about this large catholic family as they grew up, I never once felt any connection to the characters nor did I feel I got to know any of them enough to care much.
I did feel that the dialogue was excellent and the snippets of life were well-written, but the format of reading of short little events kept me at a distance. Reading, for example, of a dinner party in one chapter and then a f
Marissa Ovick
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves, good-reads
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
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
An amazing book. Honestly. I could analyze for Y E A R S.
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Uh oh. I started this before I saw the Goodreads description that includes the dread word "luminous."

Well it didn't live up to that (I'm not sure what would.) Vignettes of a large family over the years through various ups and downs. I feel a little bad that I didn't get more out of it but it was mostly bland. Maybe I'd enjoy it more if I had siblings, but most of the stories seemed to have moments of meaning that ended up not going anywhere.

Next up is In a Lonely Place. I'm in the mood for noir.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
I was seriously disappointed in this short novel written by Susan Minot, the author of the powerful and visceral "Evening" which was made into a great movie. It is about a New England family with 7 children, and follows their lives for about 20 years. How it won a French book award, I do not understand. To me it lacked any emotion or color. While it details the landscape and the mundane daily routine, there is a complete lack of depth in character development. The book reads more like an outline ...more
Robert Isenberg
Nov 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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.
Aileen M
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading about how the kids grow up together and bond as siblings was divine. It reminded me of certain aspects of my family (though my family is much smaller).
Sasha Possemato
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A haunting story about a big family and loss.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a brief read, one which came on the tail end of reading a larger more classically written piece. I blazed through it. Its language was concise, tight and succinct. Paragraphs told the stories that the paragraphs wanted to tell, true to its minimalist reputation. The flourish of story comes not from the words or turns of phrase employed but rather the distinct and profoundly relatable memories that we live beside this family within.

I was told not to wait for the shoe to fall in this one,
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, contemporary
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
Vel Veeter
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a kind of collection of short stories or more so a novel in story form from 1986. The set up is a group of children from a Catholic family in New England (the father and mother were a Harvard hockey star and figure skater respectively). The stories begins in the late 1960s with the middle child (more or less presumably our author) telling about the family structure. Each subsequent story is told by a third person narrator. The third person narrator was less interesting, and the family be ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary, reviewed
I've been a huge fan of Minot, but this one didn't touch me so deeply. It doesn't have the sophistication of her later works, although the core of her style is clearly apparent. She does a bit of the time-shifting here that she utilized to great effect in Evening, although I did lose track of where I was a few times. That said, her skill with characterization and dialogue, using character to illustrate other characters is her strong suit. This is a family of seven children with a father who is a ...more
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I follow Amy Sedaris on instagram and a few months ago she posted a photo of the cover of this book in recommendation; I promptly added to my to-read list. It's collection of short stories about a large New England family, chronicling their family life in the 1960s and 70s. The stories are short and the book is a quick read, but this one will haunt me. It was not a depressing book though in varying capacities, the stories all dealt with unpleasant situations. I particularly liked the first story ...more
Arnie Kahn
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wanted a quick read and this was perfect. This is actually a series of 9 short stories, many of them published in The New Yorker, all with members of the same family: mother, father, and 7 children. The stories are short and poignant. If you like New Yorker short stories, I suspect you'll like this book. ...more
Courtney Leblanc
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
For a short novel, this story is flooding with possibility for interpretation. Enjoyed the setting (NE), very much personally related with Sophie (depressed, felt obligated to take on a caretaker role) and Sherman (angry, betrayed, strong brotherly bond). Funny how alcohol often finds it way into a sad story.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short book that spans many years of the lives of the Vincent children. The story is delivered bluntly and without explanation. The characters are varied and brought to life through the lens of their large family and the connections therein.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read all the reviews and I don't get it.

I had to fill up the blank spaces with my imagination.

I. Just. Don't. Get. It.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A series of vignettes about a New England family. The author captures the details of daily life beautifully.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I felt like I was reading a friend's account of her family- which left out the behind the scenes feelings and stories.... a nice book. ...more
Kati Polodna
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Minot’s luminous writing.
Brian Powers
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Minot’s writing in this was incredible; she brilliantly told stories from a fractured family that always stayed close.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short and simple novel that packs a punch. It moved this middle daughter of a family of six.
Madame Jane
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-library, favorites
The Vincent family of New England is chronicled for 13 years. The passages are tender, funny, and sometimes sad. I loved it.
Autumn Wagner
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the most authentic and moving rendition of life from the kid's point of view. Very touching. ...more
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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 currently ...more

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