A novel about a play about a classic children's book. It seems that only a writer with the skill of Francine Prose could so seamlessly weave world within world, as she does in her 22nd work of fiction, Mister Monkey. Filled with wry humor and poignant observations inside the minds of her diverse cast of characters, from Adam, the pubescent boy who plays the title character in the off-off-off-Broadway production, to a grandfather whose young grandson asks aloud in the audience, "Grandpa, are you interested in this?" - a question which furthers the portrait of a comically desperate performance that intertwines them all.
At Monday's book signing for Mister Monkey at Marc Jacobs' lit heaven, Bookmarc, Ms. Prose divulged that it was that very scene which inspired the whole story. "I was taking my granddaughter to a play, so she was [that little boy]." In fact, "she thinks it's her book! She was like, 'When is our book about the monkey coming out?'"
Indeed, her granddaughter is in for a treat. Prose cited a recent rave review from the New York Times as her absolute best ever. And for someone who NPR has called, "the Meryl Streep of literary fiction," that's a pretty big deal.
But, while she was surrounded by champagne-sipping fans and stylish bookworms on Bleecker, it was clear that this was a particularly enjoyable project for the author. "There are all these different characters...and because each chapter is written from a different point of view, I had to get into all their heads. It was fun."
Fun to write and fun to read. What better review is there than that?
[Photo via @aarpresident]