Friday, November 09, 2012
Bad Monkeys -- Matt Ruff
I'm not saying you forgot this book. I forgot it. I bought it not long after it came out a few years ago, and somehow it got stuck into the wrong stack. Imagine that. Hard to believe, I know. Anyway, I was rummaging around the other day and ran across it. I wonder how I forgot about this? I thought, and then I decided it was past time to read it.
The first thing I noticed about this book when I bought it was the odd shape. It's tall and skinny. I don't think I own another one in this format.
The book itself is pretty odd, too. It's dedicated "To Phil," and the influence of Philip K. Dick is obvious throughout, in big things and small. The small things include the special weapon used by The Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons (or "bad monkeys," as they're nicknamed). The description of the weapon matches the picture on the cover of the Dell edition of The Zap Gun, and once that phrases is even used in the book.
The large things are too numerous to mention, but you'll pick up on them easily, probably even more of them than I did. Well, I'll mention just one. Philip K. Dick had a twin who died shortly after her birth Her name was Jane Charlotte, which happens to be the name of the main character in Bad Monkeys, and we never learn her last name. She does, however, have a brother named Phil. (Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is, however, purely coincidental.)
Jane Charlotte is the unreliable narrator of most of Bad Monkeys. She works for the department I mentioned above, and if you ever thought you were being watched, filmed, or listened to, now you know who was doing all that stuff. The eyes and ears are everywhere. The department is devoted to stamping out Evil. As it turns out, there's also The Troop, which is devoted to stamping out Good.
Or maybe not. Maybe it's all in Jane's mind, considering how many drugs she's ingested. And considering other things. No use to say more about this other than that reality shifts and changes quite a bit. The book has apparently been a big seller, and you know enough by now to decide if you'd like to read it. I had a great time.