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No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late (Adventura Books Series) Paperback – October 28, 2003

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No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late (Adventura Books Series) + Not So Funny When It Happened: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure (Travelers' Tales Guides)
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Product Details

  • Series: Adventura Books Series
  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (October 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580050972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580050975
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"No Touch Monkey" is shocking and scatological and straight-out hilarious... a delightful hybrid of Hemingway, David Sedaris and Helen Fielding. -- Kate Zambreno, New City

Not just a sweet read, but an object lesson in what to do when, as they say, "shit happens." -- Marion Winik, Austin Chronicle

a well-remembered riot -- Wendy Ward, Baltimore City Paper

an almost shamefully entertaining travelogue of backpacking mishaps, ill-placed trust, and gastric distress. -- Andi Zeisler, Bitch Magazine

About the Author

Ayun Halliday is the sole employee of the East Village Inky, the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award Winner for Best Zine. She is the author of The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tale From The Trenches. No Touch Monkey is like The Big Rumpus with barely any kids, quadruple the ex-boyfriends and fourteen exotic locations.Dare to be heinie!

More About the Author

I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and came of age at the height of the preppy craze. For some unfathomable reason, my grandparents had a subscription to The New Yorker and every week, I'd paw through it daydreaming about a glamorous future where I'd be a celebrated stage actress living in sin with some hot, devoted trumpet player in a Greenwich Village loft with a skyline view that I've since learned is only possible from Brooklyn or New Jersey.

After graduating from Northwestern University with an impractical, expensive degree in guess what, I embarked on an exciting career as a waitress, with occasional time-outs for globetrotting of the dirty backpack, banana pancake variety.

In 1988, I joined The Neo-Futurists, a Chicago theatre company notable for presenting 30 original plays in the course of 60 minutes and ordering pizza for the audience whenever the show sold out. Greg Kotis auditioned for the ensemble in 1991 and fortunately, we cast him because otherwise, I might not have married him and moved to New York City where we rented a 340-square-foot apartment in the East Village for $1150 a month.

Boy, were we surprised when a big old stork swooped down a year later, especially since the baby it dropped off had three thumbs and required immediate treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

On Inky's first birthday, I put out the first issue of my zine, The East Village Inky which was and still is written and illustrated entirely by hand because computers tend to take a digger when I'm around (This Web site was engineered by Dave Awl, an old buddy from the Neo-Futurists.)

After a few years, the shadow of the stork fell upon us again and we moved to Brooklyn. Milo was born underwater so lickety split, he almost came out in the Tompkins Square playground.

Greg wrote Urinetown! (the Musical) which, to everyone's amazement, made it all the way to Broadway and now he's such hot doodie he might burn you, so don't touch him! Don't tell him I called him hot doodie either because he's rigorous about his modesty and I already drew a couple of pictures in The East Village Inky where he dances around naked.

I eschewed housekeeping and wrote a book called The Big Rumpus so I could remember what life was really like when my children were small and so that you'd have something to purchase in bulk for Mothers Day and every other major holiday.

Then I had to write another book in case you pride yourself on hating kids or break out in hives at the thought of reading another birth story. My second book is called No Touch Monkey! The ranking brass in the East Village Inky guerilla marketeering squad think it'd make an excellent present for everyone who received a copy of The Big Rumpus from you last year, not to mention the special dirty backpacker in your life. If an Amazon customer reviewer is going to hate on any of my books, that's the one! Boy, is it ever! I'll fix their wagons someday.

Gosh, playing in the ashtray of my tattered memories was such fun, I started rooting through all the crappy day jobs I held while pursuing an elusive dream of life on the golden-but-not-nearly-wicked-enough stage. If you, too, have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageously low-wage fortune, reading Job Hopper is going to feel like taking off your girdle. If you've been pulling down six figures since the day you graduated B-school summa cum laude, reading Job Hopper is going to feel like taking off someone else's girdle.

The most recent autobiographical dough to come pumping out of the template is Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste. It's a love letter to everything I've ever eaten and a few of the things I wish I hadn't. I might add that it's got one of the gnarliest indexes I've ever seen, short of The Merck Manual. It made me so hungry, I had to start a food blog just to justify some of the crazy things I've stuffed in my pie-hole over the years. (I eventually realized that blogging's not for a hard core zinester like me, but you can find the archives online if you search for "Dirty Sugar Cookies Eggplant Tofu" which is what I always do when I'm trying to remember how to make my husband's favorite recipe.

In 2008, Hyperion published a picture book that had been knocking around in my rusty old brain pan since my then-4-year-old daughter observed that there's "Always Lots Of Heinies at the Zoo". True enough! She's twelve now. You do the math. Anyway, it's illustrated by Dan Santat, and it has a Bossa Nova beat, in case you want to dance to it. I'm particularly proud of the line about the junk in Ms. Elephant's supplemental trunk, and my favorite illustration is the one on the back cover.

Then came Zinesters Guide to NYC, an anecdotal, illustrated, low budget, highly participatory guidebook to New York City. It is believed to be the last wholly analog specimen of its kind. Stephen Colbert said it's truly funny, truly affordable and that if he could still walk the streets of New York among his People, this is the guide he would use. Have your cake and eat it too by using your smart phone to check if a certain gluten free and/or vegan and/or venerable bakeries listed in this delightfully old school volume are still open or whether you should savor that listing as New York history.

And now comes my graphic novel, Peanut, a collaboration with illustrator Paul Hoppe. It's about a girl who fakes a peanut allergy under the mistaken impression that it will improve her social standing at her new school. Schwartz and Wade is publishing it in January 2013, just in time for...Christmas... oh.

That photo is what I wear when battling the haters who write scathing reviews of No Touch Monkey. As you can see, I am also enjoying a cup of Official Writer Drink.

If you'd like to learn more about what's shaking in Ayun layund, or find out how to order the East Village Inky, or see some old timey photos from back in the day, I've got a website. I named it after myself. No, not Ayun Junior. Ayun Halliday Dot Com! We can even be Facebook friends. I'll wish you a happy birthday.

Dare to be Heinie! And thank you for reading!


Customer Reviews

Not bad by any means, just not gut-splitting or snicker inducing.
Ms. WB
It's just not very exciting to read about and not in par with better travel writers.
I highly suggest picking it up to anyone who likes travel and knows how to laugh.
Lori D.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By AmazonCat on August 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The cover is the best part of the book. I bought the book because one reviewer said he laughed on every page, but he must be easily amused, because I never laughed once. The author relates how she got dysentery, malaria and a dislocated knee while traveling, and how she was frightened by dogs, monkeys and prostitutes. Good travel writers can transform misfortune into interesting stories because of affection for the countries and people visited, or at least a good eye for detail. Ten minutes after reading the book, I couldn't remember any of the countries the author traveled through or any of the people she met except for one monk who liked to swim. The people she described most were her disfunctional boyfriends. The last chapter is typical, where she relates her non-adventure of staying in the hotel room with the baby while everybody else goes out and has fun. The only reason I read the whole book was because I had a back spasm and I was too uncomfortable to get up and get another book. Now I wish I had just thrown it against the wall and taken a nap instead.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Ms. WB on September 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
I bought No Touch Monkey based on title alone. So funny, it perfectly describes situations I've seen while traveling. That said, I found the writing to be less funny than the title. Not bad by any means, just not gut-splitting or snicker inducing. I had the same response from two of my traveling friends who'd read it. They smiled, but no laughs.

Ayun Halliday's self-deprecating and sarcastic writing is likeable. But the pattern in each chapter quickly becomes apparent: she and her companions make incredibly naive and/or dangerous choices in oddball foreign places and bumble through the results. Halliday's younger self is often whiny or dislikeable, which is to the author's credit and done in a self-mocking manner, but even this becomes tiring when combined with the predictability of the essays. Sadly, the "No Touch Monkey" chapter that I'd been anticipating was a bit of a let-down. Maybe the brilliant title dooms the book. Compared, the writing lags. Which is a dead shame, because Halliday is a genuinely funny lady. Her column in Bust magazine is a spirited and slightly twisted take on motherhood and she also maintains an excellently quirky website.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kristine K. Stevens on March 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The short stories did not link along to create/build a fuller reading experience or include enough details for each one to stand alone, so I was often lost when new people/places/situations were introduced.

For example, pages and pages of youthful, self-oriented travel and then she suddenly compares the pain of an injury to her giving birth to a baby. What baby? What happened to the baby? No info - readers are just whisked off to the next chapter where she goes off to Paris, is dismissive about her mom who took her on the fashion show trip, pines for yet another guy-of-the-moment, and complains about her itchy yeast infection.

The first few stories I could chalk up the poor decisions to inexperience, but they quickly grew old and unforgiving. She writes alot about the wild dogs in Ubud, yet she still decided to walk by herself in the middle of the night through forests and rice paddies. Or she accepts the young camel guide's offer for a body massage. Or leaves her clothes unattended at the beach. It was no surprise that these situations set her up for trouble/drama.

The first chapters she dogs her travel partners for their hesitations, lack of bravado, for limiting her experiences, but she is a whiny mess when the experience is not her idea - like riding camels.

I really felt for her when she accidently dislocated her knee, enough to consider cancelling the trip, but lost all empathy when she gets a cane and decides to hobble to a restaurant. She was quick to dismiss local medical practices but was surprised when a local healer put her knee back in place. During this chapter the author dedicated more text to the Somerset Maugham book she was reading than the people/things/culture around her.

Overall, this book was not about travel lessons learned too late. It was about an author's lack of appreciation and connection with the locations she visited.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Coleman on December 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read many, many books of travel essays-- and am always a fan of humorous ones-- but Ayun Halliday's book is my favorite, by far. "No Touch Monkey" is a riot from page one, and I had such a hard time putting it down that-- I swear this is true-- I kept reading it while I was in labor with my fourth child. (Yes, an epidural helped with that). She is so funny and at the same time so vulnerable-- never afraid to delve into her own bad hygiene, grievous errors in judgment, or embarrassing situations if it's likely to give the reader a good belly laugh. It takes courage to write that way. There is an innocence and sense of adventure to her viewpoint that makes her writing original and a pleasure to read. I look forward to much more from her-- traveling with her children, perhaps? Uh-oh!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lillian Aiken on January 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book with my book club otherwise I probably would not have picked it up. I found this book to be more confusing than interesting. Can't be a true adventure. Some of the adventures were entertaining.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. on March 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book because the cover seemed kinda funny, and I like travel/adventure books. But all it reads as is one boring chapter after another of some immature girl travelling on the cheap; her travel tips seem to come solely from Rick Steves' books.

She gives no insight on the places she's been. She tells us in a sentence she went to Dachau. Instead, she spins her yarn around her boyfriend's "assault" by an attendant in a men's room and the subsequent Happy Meal to cheer him up. If you want to hear about someone's adventure abroad, wouldn't you like to know what the place was like?

Ayun makes a point of bad mouthing the foolish American tourist abroad but only shows herself as one of those she scorns.
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