A review of Chimpanzee by Darin Bradley

Chimpanzee: A NovelChimpanzee: A Novel by Darin Bradley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So if you took Twelve Monkeys, add The Time Traveler’s Wife but subtract the time-travel, multiply by 1984, factor in Strange Days and divide by Fight Club, you get Chimpanzee. (Wow, that required some intense concentration. Had I had a PhD it would have been easier – maybe I do, and it was repossessed.)

Honestly, I fell into this novel with gusto. The prose is tight, so tight sometimes you wish he’s just let loose with some florid flourish, but Bradley’s prose is straight-edge, sharp as a tack. The narrator has a PhD in cognitive science and philosophy (or something…) so a lot of the work is steeped in this first-person’s clever-dick POV, but it’s not showing off: it’s central to the plot.

Well, sort of.

The world is crumbling, this sort of failed-capitalist leading to failed-socialist nightmare dystopia, errday errthang is falling to pieces, people are having their educations repossessed like some clockwork orange therapy, and anyone defaulting on their loans becomes a slave to the state. There is a revolution fomenting, a black market currency rising, censorship is the order of the day, everyone is afraid of taxes and government intervention and there is no spoon and the cake is a lie.

There is not much action either, but there is this love story. That’s one of the things that kept me going, the love story is close to the bone, tempered by the greyness of time and hardship, a sort of realism, a sort of deromanticising which is romantic in itself. (The flashbacks grow gap-toothed, memories collapse, crumbling the foundations of a love story, à la Eternal Sunshine – truly poignant)

The plot is dense, moves along smoothly, the prose is so clever and yet nebulous (imagine a philosopher painting the world as his mind falls apart) I found myself getting into it just because I like the sound of the guy’s voice.

The thing about The Time Traveler’s Wife, Fight Club, Strange Days and 12 Monkeys, is that the ending was always so spectacular you were left kind of breathless, gasping like a fish out of water. The ending to Chimp is a little flat in comparison, specially given the scale of the conclusion, the actual events, all seem muted by the character’s distant POV. That clinical distance is an interesting device, and creates this space for commentary, humour, and poignant moments, but also takes us away from the action a little.

I am a sucker for action, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker, this is a strong novel with rich characters who I wanted to understand, wanted to see unfold. Highly recommend, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Bradley’s work in the future.

View all my reviews

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DAWN OF THE ALGORITHM AUDIOBOOK

Following up on yesterday’s post, here is the full playlist of the DotA audiobook. It’s all free to download if you so desire. Enjoy, and if you like it, share away.

You can read the full poems in my collection, beautifully designed and illustrated, published by Inkshares.

DotA Spoken Word: A THOUSAND DISASTER MOVIES

A spoken word performance of my poem A Thousand Disaster Movies, set to beats by Jonathan Arena AKA Ajy Meteor. A full audiobook will be uploaded soon, stay tuned.

You can read the full poem in my collection Dawn of the Algorithm, available on Amazon and Inkshares.

DotA Teaser: IMMUNE RESPONSE

IMMUNE RESPONSE

I watch the television, I’m no fool.
Size matters in the war against the microbes.
I’m working to boost my immune system,
juice up my intestinal flora.
Starts with a bulletproof breakfast,
a nice, bloody chicken tartare,
essence of Salmonella.
I’m field testing a vaccine for swine flu
by French kissing an infected sow.
Never in my life have I felt so low,
but no one likes the bitter taste of truth.
I’ll be the last man standing
after all these jack-in-the-box plagues
hiding like cyanide capsules in a rocky tooth.
I lick all the metro rails on the way to work,
bump and grind with that hobo chick
loitering platform 3 at République.
On weekends I eat cows
that were fed other cows,
sheep fed other sheep.
From dirt, we were made to eat dirt,
to tango with the bacterial secret agents
the government designed to water down
the global population density.
I’m no fool: I’ve got my own mithridate.
I’m saving up to buy an Ebola monkey.

***

Immune Response - Samantha Wong
Immune Response – Samantha Wong

***

This poem is featured in my forthcoming collection Dawn of the Algorithm, published by Inkshares and out in bookshops real and virtual on May 30th, 2015.

Pre-order your copy here:
http://www.dawnofthealgorithm.com

Goodreads reviews

Crowdfunding VS Self-Publishing

I decided to crowdfund my collection of poems with Inkshares, rather than self-publish or work with an independent press. I’ve had a lot of questions as to why I chose this model.

The answer is simple: skills.

I am not a graphic artist, a publicist, a marketing specialist, I do not have extensive networks in the business, nor am I qualified to lay out a manuscript for print with a professional eye, etc.

I write and translate for a living, I copy-edit and know how to make a text the best it can be, but it’s not the same as packaging a cultural product such as a book.

I put my faith in specialists, much in the same way we delegate specialized tasks to doctors, lawyers, notaries… I decided to bank on Inkshares because they are on the rise, they are dedicated, and they were recommended by someone I trust. They can connect me with top-tier editors, distribute via Amazon/Ingram, and market me in a catalogue that includes Daniel Wallace (Big Fish). It has been a pleasure, and a learning experience, working with them so far.

Crowdfunding is to sell a product before it exists, to sell an idea. That’s an ambitious leap of faith with a book.

I was for a long time vocally against the commodification of literature. I liked to think in eternal ideals of text as pure art, the market as a soulless framework I could somehow side-step once I had been “discovered” by an agent. As if I stood completely apart from all the aspiring writers out there. But I realized something important: I am not special. No one is going to sell my writing for me. Even if I did find a big-name publisher, I would have to brand myself, brand my work, and package it like everything else we see on the shelves. What I want, more than anything, is to connect with readers and in a world of commodities, I am just one among thousands. I believe in my writing, and while I am my own worst critic, I must also be my biggest fan, vain as that may sound.

The book project I have in mind isn’t only about text, it’s about illustration and how the two can resonate together, it’s about making an objet d’art, a vector for my signature brand of reading experience. Working closely with professionals, collaborating with them, will allow me to achieve this goal better than I could on my own. I’m not waiting to be discovered anymore. So I took a leap of faith.

If you want to know more about the process, I’d be happy to talk about it.

TL;DR: Crowdfunding with a company who are solely dedicated to publishing quality books will make this final product better than I could make it on my own.

Sample Illustrations for Dawn of the Algorithm

Below are three lowrez samples of the artwork featured in Dawn of the Algorithm. You can read The Moreau Zoo and T-Rex is Sad on the Inkshares project page, while Post-Human Neo-Tokyo is up on Two Words For. Sharing is caring! Or rather, in the spirit of our generation’s soulless devolution into cyber-detachment: I share therefore I am.

THE MOREAU ZOO
THE MOREAU ZOO – Mathieu Sourisse
POST-HUMAN NEO-TOKYO
POST-HUMAN NEO-TOKYO – Alex Manthei
T-REX IS SAD
T-REX IS SAD – Brian J. Murphy