Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $5.06 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore Hardcover – February 2, 2011
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2011: From the first page of Benjamin Hale's exquisite novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, Hale’s linguistic talent locks the reader into their seat and sends them ticking up the roller coaster ride of Bruno Littlemore’s life. An unlikely narrator, Bruno is a chimpanzee trying to become a man--a process he sees as “equal parts enlightenment and imprinting your brain with taboos.” Bruno acquires a fervent love of language--and of primatologist Lydia Littlemore, with whom he develops a deep (and, yes, sexual) relationship until she falls ill. Comic relief comes in the form of Leon, a boisterous subway thespian, who introduces Bruno to the stage shortly before a murderous transgression results in Bruno’s return to captivity. With Bruno Littlemore, Hale has crafted a truly original narrator, holding a mirror on humanity with a razor-like precision that makes this stunning novel one readers will want to discuss the minute they turn the last page.--Seira Wilson
From Publishers Weekly
An enlightened chimp goes on the wildest adventure since Every Which Way but Loose in Hale's mischievous debut. Bruno Littlemore, the narrator chimp, eventually lands in a research lab at the University of Chicago, where he falls in love with Dr. Lydia Littlemore, who, shortly after hearing Bruno speak his name, takes him first to her apartment (sex is had, much later) and later to the quietude of a Colorado ranch owned by a couple of odd animal rights advocates. It is in this environment that Bruno becomes a fully articulate and artistic being, but the idyll does not last: Lydia falls ill, and Bruno is captured, escapes, ends up in New York City, and befriends a dreamer named Leon with whom he mounts a performance of The Tempest before being forced by circumstance to return, tragically, to Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Bruno, having mastered speech, is quite happy to play with this new toy, going on philosophical riffs and speaking at length about art, and while his monologues are less tedious than you'd imagine, it's his quest for answers about the agonizing dilemmas of existence that is unexpectedly resonant. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Of course it is far-fetched and unrealistic, but put that aside and enjoy this book. Get past some of the more repulsive parts and get over it.
Four stars instead of five? It sometimes goes on a bit too long, and dragged a bit in the second half. I also recommend Hale's short story collection, called "The Fat Artist".
The book's most glaring fault is its length. Clocking in at nearly six hundred pages isn't intrinsically a bad thing, but when the author intentionally writes in an annoyingly verbose style in order to portray the narrator as pompous and arrogant, then finishing such a mammoth tome becomes a chore for the reader. The ridiculously long paragraphs are particularly trying, including a chapter describing a production of "The Tempest" that doesn't break for a new paragraph even once. I had to put the book down in frustration after that chapter, and when that happens, the author is doing something wrong.
The story also loses focus and begins to meander after Bruno heads to New York. His entire Shakespearean-actor saga with Leon could have been excised from the book entirely, especially the pointless subplot about his quest for a nose job. Suspension of disbelief also becomes next to impossible throughout this act, as Bruno publicly walks around the city and is mistaken for a deformed human by everyone save Leon (a teenage girl even kisses him). The author makes him hairless in a weak attempt to justify such widespread idiocy, but seriously, google "Hairless Chimp." They still look like chimps.
There's definitely some good stuff to be found in the earlier parts of the story, though. Enough to have prevented me from giving it a failing grade, anyway. Lydia is a damn tragic character, all the moreso because Bruno's singlemindedness and self-importance as a narrator prevent us from seeing as much of her story as we'd like. Hints are well-placed by the author but are always just out of reach. Although this is a case of the author using Bruno's unlikability to great effect, the book fails to aspire to this level of storytelling again, and Bruno's unlikability just becomes annoying. The book could have succeeded if it had shaved off half of its length and had a tighter focus on Lydia's tragedy, but it ultimately gets caught up in its own pretentions, and that success remains elusive.
The conceit of a chimp that develops human-like thought is fraught with possibilities and author Benjamin Hale generally delivers. How does the member of another species view we crazy humans? How can our odd behavior be understood by an entity that previously had no knowledge of us? Hale uses "Bruno" to see our world through fresh eyes, much as a precocious child might. There's a lot of fun in that and Hale's intricate prose makes this exploration fun.
But, beware. Bruno's not always so likeable. He is, after all an animal. And, despite his eventual erudition and refinement, some of his behavior throughout the book shockingly reminds you of that.
Despite generally enjoying this tale, there were several things that bothered me about it. (1) Bruno's development from simple chimp to super-intellectual happens in a more or less magical fashion; no plausible explanation for this transition is really offered. (2) Bruno repeatedly describes his intense love affair with Lydia Littlemore, the research assistant who essentially adopts him but Lydia is almost non-existent as a character. She has very few speaking lines and their entire "relationship" occurs almost exclusively through Bruno's simple assertions. This seemed so odd that I began to suspect that Bruno was an unreliable narrator. I began to think that he was simply making the whole thing up. (3) Almost no attempt is made by the author to deal with the realities of a talking chimp making his way through the human world. For instance, at one point, Bruno has to get help for an unconscious Lydia and runs to an upstairs neighbor asking for an ambulance to be called. No account is given of the neighbor's reaction to being greeted by a talking chimp. Bruno simply says "it may have happened this way", hinting perhaps that it didn't. Again, the possibility of an unreliable narrator is raised...but is never resolved. (4) the physical relationship that's described between Bruno and Lydia has an outcome that is simply biologically impossible. Again, no explanation. (5) There is graphic detail in this novel that is sometimes simply over-the-top, particularly in the opening chapters describing Bruno's life as a typical zoo-kept chimp.
Despite these significant flaws, this is still an enjoyable and well-written (if not perfectly plotted) read. Hale is clearly a talented writer and I look forward to his next effort.
Most recent customer reviews
Book clocks in at about 585 pages and I read up to page 186 and....I couldn't care any more. It's just vanilla writing in my opinion.Read more