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New World Monkeys

2.74  ·  Rating details ·  311 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
A savagely smart, darkly comic literary debut, New World Monkeys exposes the false idols of marital tranquillity, small-town idyll, and corporate Darwinism in the dazzling voice of a major new talent.

Duncan and Lily, young and adrift in a prickly marriage and lackluster careers, flee Manhattan for the peaceful allure of a recently inherited crumbling Victorian home. But th
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Crown (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Jun 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
The title is a bit silly, and deceiving: this is a very finely tuned story of a marriage in trouble, a wild boar, advertising, and a small town. I would love to have a conversation with Nancy Mauro to see if her speech is as elegantly crafted and precisely chosen as her writing. An example (in a chapter about observing an elderly woman): "The old woman below is covered in flesh only loosely tacked to the bone here and there, at the elbows and temple and knees...A tangle of veins decorates her th ...more
Jan 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, fiction
Well, those are many hours I will never get back! What a waste of my time! I should have abandoned this book a long time ago but I kept on reading hoping it would improve. It didn't. A couple whose marriage is in trouble go to a summer home hoping that maybe things will change. So many odd and yet trivial things occur. The title has no relevance until possibly right near the ending. The ending isn't believable. Give this one a pass.
Nick Cato
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading about this in a 2009 issue of Writer's Digest magazine, I was lured in by the quirky premise: but thanks to my heavy reading schedule, I missed the original hardcover release. The trade edition came out this past September, and I'm glad I finally had the chance to check out Mauro's highly-praised debut novel.

Duncan and Lily have been married 5 years. Already on the verge of separation, Lily decides to spend the summer at an inherited Victorian home in the small upstate town of Oste
Mar 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: women-authored
3-1/2 stars. Not being able to award half stars is the only bone I have to pick with this otherwise fantastic site. Nancy Mauro's New World Monkeys is better than most of the books I've awarded 3 stars to here but not quite in the league of the majority of those I've given 4-star reviews. Alas I had no choice but to either round up or down. This fine debut novel, told in alternating narration, is in short about a married Manhattanite couple that has reached a rocky patch, one they're unwilling o ...more
Dec 16, 2009 rated it liked it

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Writing....but...Not a Story for Me, December 12, 2009

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
In NEW WORLD MONKEYS, Lily and Duncan are a Manhattan couple, whose marriage has seen better days. Duncan is in Advertising, and working on a new campaign, and Lily is working on her dissertation. They are headed to upstate New York to a run down mansion that has been in Lily's family for years. On their drive along a darkened road, out pops a wild boar that
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
The dividing line between this book only getting one star and the two I decided on is how beautiful the writing is and how fantastically developed the two main characters are.

The themes and plot of this book revolve around a few very odd things: the accidental death of a wild boar, the discovery of human remains in an otherwise serene yard, attachment to a pedophiliac pervert, and the use of Viet Nam as an image to sell blue jeans. All of these elements combine to tell the story of a troubled m
Mathew Peters
May 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
BANAL, dull, painfully boring I could go on and on about how bad this book is. The tension in the marriage lacks real emotion, the plot is not compelling, and the author appears to be writing a narrative solely to advertise just how pretentious she is. I could car less about the dead bore, the buried body, or the outcome of this couples marriage, and that is largely due to the authors failure to build any suspense. Largely her failings are due to the narrative style she chose. This might have be ...more
Amber Sky
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who are in distressing marriages, own a saab, live in upstate new york
Recommended to Amber by: no one :(
Marriage to someone you do not like is torture. So much torture that if you write about it and it becomes published and someone like me who reads the jacket will check it out, spend the whole night reading it and feel like she/he has been through the whole tortuous ordeal themselves. Well written in that it kept me up longer than I should have been finishing it but too well written that it made me wish that one of the characters would just break, call it quits so I could feel some sort of satisf ...more
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009-books
Ever been pretty much apathetic to a book and yet you can't put it down? That's the dilemma I faced with "New World Monkeys." The book is the story of two married 30 somethings, Lily and Duncan, whose marriage is strained.
Lily decides to spend her summer at the ancestral home her parents inherited while Duncan joins her during the summer several hours north of New York City. The couple accidentally kills a boar their first night and spends the summer lying to the townspeople about the slaying.
Jason Furman
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, novel
At it's best this book merits five stars. The opening scene -- in which the husband runs over a feral hog and the wife finishes him off -- is a masterpiece of psychologically insightful black comedy. And the advertising campaign developed over the course of the book for a company that makes both flared and straight blue jeans tops anything Mad Men has come up with. Overall, the book is highly original, funny, and psychologically insightful as it diagnoses a marriage that is falling apart and the ...more
Paula Hebert
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
any book that has as one of its central characters the town mascot, a wild boar named Sovereign of the Deep Woods, has to be read, take an emotionally removed couple from new york, add the aforesaid porker, some incensed farmers and townspeople, the local pervert, a family skeleton-really!-and let things ferment. I felt like I was in the twilight zone reading this novel, just a little off balance at every turn, until things are so out of control you can't go back. the couple, unlikeable as they ...more
Rebecca Gomez Farrell
The premise of the book is fine--a couple getting close to divorce spend the summer in an old, family heirloom of a house, and end up killing the town mascot of a boar, digging up the bones of an old family legend, and indulging their craziest urges in order to find themselves again. There's a lot that's right about that premise, but I'm really not fond of the idea that humans need to embrace their innate animals to have true realizations of who they are. I just don't agree, and reading a book t ...more
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction, humor
Manhattanites Lily and Duncan's marriage is falling apart, so they decide that Lily will take up residence in her family's run-down Victorian mansion in a village along the Hudson. There she will work to finish her dissertation while Duncan, an advertising exec, visits on weekends. Village life, the pursuit of Ph.D.s, and the world of advertising (shades of Mad Men), are all mercilessly and amusingly sent up. All library employees will appreciate the antics of the local pervert who finds the stu ...more
Sally Ross
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
First of all, I would never review a book I didn't finish reading, which just makes me crazy when I see people do this. I had many mixed emotions about this one. It was funny at times and also dark, but what it left me with "when finished" was apathy. I didn't care about the characters in this book at all. I didn't care what happened to them or any of the crazy people in their town. I was glad to be done with the book just so I wouldn't have to keep these people in my life. That being said, the ...more
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Things go from bad to worse for Duncan and Lily, and then keep going. In this darkly comic tale, their marriage is tested as they decide to part during the work-week, as Lily starts fixing up her ancestral pile in upstate NY, and Duncan must return to the city every Monday to toil at his ad agency. A tragic accident involving their Saab and the town's wild boar mascot, the Sovereign of the Deep Wood, is the catalyst as the two drift apart, Lily to her new stalker friend, and Duncan to his new ad ...more
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub
I admit defeat. 50 pages left in the middle, and I just can't do it. I am calling it done and moving onto other almost-due library books! I thought the premise of this book had a lot more potential than it lived up to.

Not loving the writing style, which I think may be the heart of this book. Read the first 100 and last 50 pages (I do that when I'm not into a book but am curious where the author's going); based on the last 50, I can't imagine anything huge happened in the middle that isn't filled
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
The writing was hep and urbane. The author's voice was original and telling a different story I might have liked it better. There is a couple in a troubled marriage. They hit a wild boar that belongs to a small town bully. The husband has an uptight advertising job. The wife is adrift in her unhappiness and befriends the small town's pervert at the library. I don't know. There are references to Vietnam and a dead body in the backyard. I wasn't in the mood to try so hard to understand what it all ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Excellent prose but the converging stories seemed too weird and unrelatable.
Lily was believable except when she interacted with Lloyd. Lloyd was just really creepy and unsympathetic in any way. Nor were the townspeople terribly clear. I couldn't get into Skinner at all. Duncan and his colleagues weren't much better despite many passages devoted to them. Their Vietnam inspired campaign was simply too hard to engage in.

The portrait of the marriage of Duncan and Lily was interesting and their scath
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Started great but kind of self-destructed by the end. Maybe this is an intentional parallel with the male protagonist? Either way, the book left me wondering what happened, and not in a good way. The ending felt especially forced, a narrative finale that only ties back thematically by the barest of threads.

Still, the first half was good, building enough momentum to propel me through the end of the book. The end result just didn't make it worth the investment.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Strange and gripping. I found the authors descriptions of the strained marriage very nuanced and engaging. I didn't fall in love with any of the characters, didn't really care about them and yet still wanted badly to know what would happen. The parts with Lloyd the perv were superb and thought provoking. As a country person, the descriptions of the feral business world of a NYC advertising agency were distantly amusing but not very meaningful. I'd recommend it as an adventure in reading.
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Whatever you do, don't kill the town mascot.

This book verged on fantastical but wasn't fully committed. A not-very-nice couple decides to get out of the city and take up summer residence in the old family home. The wife befriends a pervert. The husband drinks a lot and writes advertising copy using Viet Nam to sell jeans.

They aren't sure if they should be together. The townspeople aren't sure they should be there...
Jan 09, 2010 rated it liked it
While the writing style made the book a slow read, I found some of the small city events humorous. It reminded me of good old Baraga, Michigan where I spent time growing up. Where having a live animal as a town mascot and having a group of people showing up on your doorstep at all hours of the night with torches...or flashlights for a vandalzing event was something that really would happen there. It made me remember the not so good ol' days, but in a funny way.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Another book savaged from the last days of my local Borders.....

It surprised me by actually being decent. I had zero expectations and only bought it because I had a gift card to use before they closed.

There were some very entertaining parts and some sections where I was bored. It is definitely a first novel. The plot drops sometimes, but generally picks back up. I did have a bunch of questions as I read, all regarding the progression of the plot.
Aug 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jackie by: Rachel Rokicki at Shaye Aerhart Books
This debut novel has already garnered a lot of attention--Publisher's Weekly named it as a "galley to grab" at this year's BEA (Book Expo America). It's hard to find a specific
niche to put this in. It's rather dark,grim and disturbing. It's also funny. It's a love story. It's a horror story. It's written with a sophisticated level of language about the most primitive of human desires and deeds. It's not an easy read, but it is a compelling one. I challenge you to read it!
Tattered Cover Book Store
Jackie says:

This debut novel has already garnered a lot of attention--Publisher's Weekly named it as a "galley to grab" at this year's BEA (Book Expo America). It's hard to find a specific niche to put this in. It's rather dark,grim and disturbing. It's also funny. It's a love story. It's a horror story. It's written with a sophisticated level of language about the most primitive of human desires and deeds. It's not an easy read, but it is a compelling one. I challenge you to read it!
Le Chuck
Dec 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book was really disappointing. The premise is great and has the potential of being a humerous, yet quirky, mystery/romance novel. Unfortunately it just totally fell apart about midway through. The plots were either resolved sloppily or were left unresolved. I wanted to like the two main characters, but by the end I hated them both. They are both pathetic, as is this book. Sucks. Don't recommend it.
Jul 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I was hooked from the first sentence. The vulgarity and evolution of violence act as a lure to keep your attention focused on Duncan and Lily as they struggle to find both themselves and each other. Each of them struggle for control of their own lives until they devolve to the basest of instincts and desires when they finally realize that what they really want is to give up control completely, to go wherever the river takes them.
J. K.
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you love unique word usage you'll absolutely fall in love with this author. She has a fantastic instinct for writing the very real emotions that flow between men and women in relationships. This story has a quirky bent to it that is very plausible and the dark comedic undertones are wonderfully exquisite.

Just read it!
Doriana Bisegna
Dec 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While it started it off with humour, quirky characters and a unsolved murder it ended with a very disgruntled reader. I had a hard time making sense of this novel and wondering what the point of the story would be. Too many things going on and none of them made for a good story. I was just becoming more and more irritated.
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