I’m not exaggerating when I say that Walt Maguire’s Monkey See is the reason why small presses were invented. (Okay, I’m exaggerating a tiny bit, but it’s definitely one of the reasons why I love small presses.) The book is part etiquette manual, part survival guide, and part novel–all centered on the burning issue of what humanity should be doing right now to prepare for the inevitable day when talking apes attempt to take over the planet. If you’re still with me, then you’ll love this book. And if, like me, your life has provided more than enough context to appreciate the humor of a footnote that reads in its entirety, “Planet of the Apes Goes to Hawaii, starring Bob Denver and Florence Henderson (1976),” then Monkey See will have you rolling.
As the above example may suggest, Monkey See taps into the zeitgeist that brought Planet of the Apes back to the big screen in 2001, but (unlike Hollywood) Maguire has the sense to keep the proceedings somewhat lighthearted even as he explores the vices and predilections that could arguably lead humanity to its doom. In this respect, Monkey See feels like a book Mark Twain might have written if he’d managed to hang on for another century or so, or like a lost Kurt Vonnegut manuscript. I’m also reminded of Woody Allen’s Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask, as Maguire leavens his narrative with answers to a number of questions that the casual would-be megalomaniac mad scientist may also be afraid to ask. Covering issues that range from how to staff your lab to what to say just before your monster ends up killing you, Maguire has clearly considered all the angles of a potential talking-ape invasion.
Overall, Monkey See is a hilarious read–highly recommended for anyone with an interest in apes, armageddon, and the potential relationship between the two.