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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,368 ratings  ·  121 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
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 8th 2000 by Vintage (first published May 14th 1986)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,368 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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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
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
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Sasha Possemato
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A haunting story about a big family and loss.
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).
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2012
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
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 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 ...more
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.
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.
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.
Kati Polodna
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Minot’s luminous writing.
Madame Jane
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, my-library
The Vincent family of New England is chronicled for 13 years. The passages are tender, funny, and sometimes sad. I loved it.
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.
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.
Betsy VanSweden
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Kelsey Fitzpatrick
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Natasha Martinez
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nicholas Lizardi
Oct 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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)
Christina Campbell
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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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 ...more
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