Monkey Talk by T. Lucas Earle

Posted August 11, 2013 in Book Review, Short Story Review / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monkey Talk by T. Lucas EarleMonkey Talk by T. Lucas Earle
Published by Amazon on July 15th 2013
Genres: Science fiction
Pages: 16
Format: eARC
Source: ARC from publisher
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five-stars

Monkey Talk is loosely based on the Chinese myth, the Monkey King, a timeless story about who belongs, and who doesn’t. In a future in which Chimps can give lectures on cybernetics, Mr. Towry is a Chimp with an attitude. Unfortunately, the rules are still “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”

Main Points
Writing Style
Well-written. The descriptions were just vivid enough to satisfy without being overdone.This story was definitely written for adults- style, message, content, everything. But I would not hesitate to introduce writing of this magnitude to my children.
Content (few spoilers)
Clearly this story takes place in the future (or at least that was the message I got). Cheetahs are extinct, digital overlays are part of everyday life, and apes are dealing with racism.
The main idea here, I believe, is that humans shouldn’t be superior to other animals just because we don’t all communicate in the same way. In the story, Mr. Towry makes a point about not eating meat because we are all animals, and just because cows and other creatures cannot tell us to stop eating them does not mean we should go right ahead. This story provides a very convincing argument for vegetarianism, although I hope you’ll forgive me if I do not succumb.
There are also various subtleties and not-so-subtle digs at racism and judgment based on background in our culture. For instance, there is the part where he takes a taxi and immediately notes the driver’s ethnicity (actually, he does this with everyone, and can’t be blamed for doing so), and considers asking him why someone with an East Texas accent was in Boston. He decides against it when he realizes the driver could ask him the same sort of question. Is it just people (or apes) accustomed to being judged who automatically (and perhaps subconsciously) judge other people in this way, or is it everyone? I myself as a person of color am not especially sensitive to these things, but then again, I have not been harshly judged either. Food for thought.
There is also the major issue about Mr. Towry being denied entrance to a restaurant because of his lack of shoes. Now, the point in this story is that this is considered prejudice against him, for being an ape and not even having feet, but would the maitre d’s reaction be any different if he were a human? A homeless person, perhaps, who could not afford shoes (never mind that a homeless person wouldn’t be able to afford eating at the restaurant anyhow)? It would not. And I doubt a homeless person would be able to take down two men either. (Honestly, did he have to get so mad about that? Why not just go find some gloves? Oh, perhaps because you’re taking it a bit too personally because you’re used to being treated differently? Goodness, sir, the man’s just doing his job. Well, his first real mistake was thinking he could force an ape to do something.) I’m not taking sides here, just providing things to think about.
Another point is the acculturation of apes into human culture. He may not wear shoes, but he wears clothes and carries a cane, yes? These are human things. Also, riding in lifts and taxis. Eating food at restaurants. Talking. Lecturing about cybernetics. Basically everything he does. (Not to mention his horrible disease, or, well, intermarriage.) Perhaps out of convenience to him, he acts this way, or perhaps he prefers it, but still the humans do not treat him the same as one of them. You can dress a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but he is still a wolf, I suppose. Just another point about racism and how it takes people a long time to get used to such things- even racism in this time is not cleared up, so how about the future, when it applies to animals as well? Is it even possible for equality to be believed? Accepted? Sure, the future has fancy digital overlays, but the moral issues are the same.
I love all the issues this story talks about and the sides that are presented. It almost seems not enough; if this were a book, I would read it, several times.
Characters 
Mr. Towry was quite a character. Perhaps a bit quick to anger (but he probably had his justifications; what do I know? I’m not an ape). Clearly he had his internal struggles, and various affections. Very human-like (not to be racist), very relatable. Ms. Liu was pleasant, but little more than a secondary character, someone for the main character to talk to and help relate the point of the story.
Ending (no spoilers)
Somewhat depressing ending, but yet satisfying, as if it was as it should be. I felt like the message of the story had come across well enough by that point, like a friend who had delivered a package to your home, stopped for a quick chat, and then departed (the story uses a few comparisons like this, and I must admit, they were a nice touch).
Bottom Line
I loved this story. If it was a book, I would read the whole thing, several times. It presented some fantastic issues that are worth discussing and thinking about. The characters were perfect for their roles. It was very well-written. Would I read other stories/books by this author? Definitely. Would I recommend this story? Yes, to anyone with a penchant for higher thinking, or someone who needed a good dose of reality.

Similar To:
The closest comparison I can make (from the limited repertoire of books I’ve read) is to Animal Farm by George Orwell. It is about animal equality, told from the point of view of animals who act like humans, and it questions many ideas in our society. It is definitely worth a read.

This review was requested. To request a review (whether you are an author, blogger, or simply a reader), see my Review Policy.

About T. Lucas Earle

T. Lucas Earle is a writer, filmmaker, and amateur statistician He lives in LA, a comfortable 60 meters above sea level, where only three out of every 100,000 people are murdered.

T. Lucas has a degree from Emerson College, which makes for a terrific placemat. He spends his days reading scripts – a job for which he receives nominal remuneration. Like many slightly brain-damaged children of hypoxic former left-wing political cult members of the 1970s , he will review almost anything. I once caught him writing a review for a Hamilton Beach toaster oven instruction manual.

When T. Lucas is not reading and groaning quietly to himself, he writes and groans much louder. He has written several short stories, a screenplay or two, and is working up the courage to write a note to the fetching young lady who works at the Starbucks on Glendale Ave. He’s been published in Atomic Spec, The Colored Lens, and on Amazon, where you can find his short stories.

T. Lucas also writes numerous blogs filled with hidden SOS messages, in the hopes that one day someone will find him and rescue him from the Internet.

Rating
Plot
five-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
five-stars
Setting
four-half-stars
Cover
three-half-stars
Overall: five-stars
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