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Utterly Monkey: A Novel Paperback – January 3, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Depicting disaffected, drifting Prods in the cultural landscape in which the Catholic nationalists are perceived to have won, his plot largely depends upon generic, predictable tropes--the jaded young London lawyer who has a change of heart that motivates him to sabotage a predatory corporate takeover, and the same jaded young lawyer locked into a bitter (though seemingly arbitrary) oedipal struggle with the firm's senior partner. But the major contrivance is this same lawyer falling in love with the firm's exotic and beautiful young lawyer--first feeling in awe of her, bedding her only to find that she has recently ended an affair with his bete noire senior partner, irrationally and brutally rejecting her, and eventually recognizing his error and reconciling with her. (One wonders and never knows what she sees in this lackluster drudge.) Very ho-hum and predictable.
Perhaps the larger disappointment is with how generic the Belfast landscape is. Although Laird is an Ulsterman and chooses the most emotionally charged an dangerous setting for a large section of his novel (the 12th of July!), this lawyer and his love cruise through the Belfast environs without ever seeing a bonfire, a police barricade, an armed standoff complete with watercanons and shockwalls, or any of the threatening mess that tends to mark this week each year. No, this couple motor around the area as if it were a forgetable spring day, and bar-hop through Belfast without seeing a paramilitary roadblock, any of the many shops annually boarded up by its owner in anticipation of the 12th, or even smelling the faint odor from a city full of bonfires.
What distinguishes Laird? First of all, he's over a decade younger than this trio. Born in 1975, by the time he came of age in Cookstown, the worst of the violence had begun to for the most part ease. Like MacLiam Wilson, he went to Cambridge. Unlike his predecessor, he did not drop out--shades of Ripley Bogle--but went on to a year at Harvard and six years practicing law in London. He chucked it all and took up writing. Now, I have to admit, since he's married to Zadie Smith, I'm not sure when this relationship started and how it influenced his decision. Certainly, however the situation, Laird has, like his wife, taken on today's London and, in his case, mixed it with a glance back at his native corner, still struggling to shake off the paras--now using drug moneys to fund their continued grievances and, in this novel, to carry off--on the Twelfth of July 2004--another 'spectacular'.Read more ›
I would take with a grain of salt reviews (such as the booklist review above) that do not understand that the IRA is a Republican organization, and all of the Irish characters in this book are Protestants, and Unionists. That error means they missed one of the interesting things about this book. It is one of the rare instances of a book set, in part, in Northern Ireland told from the Protestant perspective. That is a serious gap in a reviewer's understanding. Ditto all of the "lad lit" descriptions. Lad mags, at least, are for 20 something kids trying to feel sophisticated. The point of Danny's redemption is not meant for those kids. They won't understand it. Only after you've had the opportunity to sell your soul for work a few times will it make sense. Hence, the work cannot possibly be for "lads."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I came upon this book browsing at the bookstore, just by luck. What a great find. Excellent story, really fun Irish scenery, family life and colloquialisms, and awesome writing. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Daniel Holland
Don't ask me to review if you are going to require me to write something. See my GoodReads account if you want a reviewPublished on March 28, 2013 by A. Karr
I found this a terrifickly well realized novel, driven less by plot than by the characters' ambivalent relationships to their various backgrounds, which collide in the life of the... Read morePublished on October 8, 2007 by Writing Degree Zero
What's most distinctive about "Utterly Monkey" is its voice -detached and ironic, smirking, a bit boozy. Laird has a gift for quirky turns of phrase and idiomatic goofiness. Read morePublished on September 4, 2006 by Amazon Customer
The author, Nick Laird hails from Northern Ireland and worked as a lawyer before turning to writing full time. Read morePublished on June 4, 2006 by Sirin
I gladly give this book 4 stars because the descriptions are sometimes stunningly astute. A joy to read. Read morePublished on March 17, 2006 by 2nd Opinion
Having the pleasure (and no doubt embarassment) of being married to the most beautiful and famous novelist in London, Laird has no right to be this talented. What a debut novel! Read morePublished on January 13, 2006 by Richard von Busack