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The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters Paperback – September 3, 2002
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From Library Journal
A sharp, fast-paced, and well-packaged academic satire, along the lines of James Hyne's The Lecturer's Tale (LJ 12/00), this is a coming-of-age story from the point of view of the paying victim (a.k.a. the student). A na?ve fellow finds himself in the hallowed, cinderblock halls of his state art school in the 1950s where, try as he might, he can't quite capture in pencil the essence of a decapitated waterfowl, an old shoe, and a detumescent pomegranate. No wonder he becomes enthralled by the charms of one Himillsy Dodd, a free spirit and the only other enrollee in the still-life course who seems to know the meaning of "detumescent." The following semester, the duo find themselves in Art 127: Introduction to Commercial Art, and the novel shifts typeface and turns into a syllabus for what might be the ultimate graphic design class. Winter Sorbeck challenges his students and himself perhaps beyond what today's law allows, but the results are all recorded in indelible ink on their Permanent Academic Records, though the novel's painful conclusion does find Sorbeck out job hunting. Kidd is an award-winning graphic artist responsible for the memorable book jackets for such titles as Jurassic Park and Love in the Time of Cholera. That should assure his first novel a healthy amount of publicity with attendant demand. For all larger public libraries and for art schools everywhere. Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Kidd is a pioneer in book cover art, but this novel marks his first attempt to write the words between his magnificent covers. It tells the story of one boy's discovery of graphic design in college and his talented and cruel professor. The "novel in two semesters" follows our narrator through his first year at the ubiquitous "State U." In the first semester, he meets Himillsy Dodd, a precociously brilliant fellow art major with a great disdain for art, and takes "Introduction to Drawing," which includes such inane exercises as drawing a still life of a large, brown, and dead bird named Renaldo. Then they take graphic design with the enigmatic William Sorbeck, and life changes forever. Sorbeck shines in three dimensions on the page, a living representation of the larger-than-life professor that luckier college students have a chance to know. This is a fascinating, funny, and wonderfully written novel of graphic design that manages to deepen the reader's appreciation for the artistry and wonder of design without a single drawing. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I read it my senior year in art school, and it made my remaining time much more enjoyable. I then gave a copy to my stepsister, who was entering art school the next year.
When you're in art school, I have found that a lot of people have felt extremely alienated and nervous about what they're doing at all with their lives. I know I did. I still question it a lot, but this book helped me realize that I am NOT the only person that feels or felt that way! I realized that yes, art school kind of sucks for everyone, but it's important enough that you're doing what you love that you can make it through!
I think that this is an absolute must-have for any/all art students. It is fantastic. Plus, Chip Kidd's book covers are probably on books that you own. Check out his work!
Kidd's writing is beautiful. It flows in such a natural current, a hypnotic joining of letters and punctuation that just saying the sentences out loud turns novel to poetry.
Great characters, interesting plot, and something excitingly new and inventive in a world that is leaning towards rehashing the same plot over and over and over.
Written by graphic designer Chip Kidd, "The Cheese Monkeys" is a novel of art school academia, which I thought would bore me. However, the book is wholly original and thought provoking. It's smart, has style to spare, and is unique in execution. The characters all seem true to life - even the broadest of them are free of exaggeration and conjure memories of people I've actually known.
I'm not going to bore you with quotes and details from this gem; just know this: "The Cheese Monkeys" is a GREAT American novel and you'd be a damned fool not to read it.