- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (9 Jan. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312373023
- ISBN-13: 978-0312373023
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,458,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Monster, 1959 Paperback – 9 Jan 2009
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"[When] Maine's evocative prose takes control, as in the telling of the creation myth recited by the elders on K's island, he creates something uniquely strange and beautiful...If you think you've seen this story before, you're right, but never quite like this." - THE WASHINGTON POST "Like its protagonist, 'a Daliesque construct of unexpected leaps and alarming juxtapositions,' Monster, 1959 is both ungainly and oddly endearing." - THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW" --New York Times Review
About the Author
David Maine was born in 1963 and grew up in Farmington, Connecticut. His previous novels include The Preservationist, Fallen and The Book of Samson. He is married to novelist Uzma Aslam Khan, and since 1998 has lived in Lahore, Pakistan.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Maine's writing is top notch, and his word-play is one of the things I most enjoy when reading his books. His humor is my favorite aspect of his writing, and this book contains some gems.
As with his other books, Maine is not shy about sharing his opinions, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly. In the scope of this "Monster Movie" tale there is just enough commentary to keep you thinking. I'd be hard pressed to find a topic that wasn't at least briefly touched on (money, power, greed, sex, the media, etc. etc.)
I probably wouldn't recommend this as a first exposure to Maine, unless you are a fan of the monster movie genre. The Preservationist is a great introduction to Maine's work, but once a fan I think you'd agree that he could write the copy on a cereal box and make it unique and interesting.
*Spoiler Alert - There is a scene where two people get cut in half by a statue while having butt sex that she didn't want.
“He is not [lost in thought]. He is simply lost. Or more properly, he is waiting for stimulus, internal or external, to prod him into motion. Perhaps hunger, or the approach of the flying lizard who occasionally torments him, or the need to relieve his bowels, or a thunderstorm. K. sits patiently, chewing without thinking. Waiting, like one of Pavlov’s now-famous slobbering dogs, for something to happen.”
Taking this further, nearly all human interactions are viewed as mere stimulus to K., whose mind cannot process what is happening to him or evaluate a situation, and yet we don't need many clues to determine that pretty much every human being in the story is a cretin. This is a bone of contention for some readers--an absence of one person they can like, an “entry point” character, so to speak. I, on the other hand, believe we should meet the story on its own terms.
I do read some complaint about Maine’s habit of stepping outside the story to cite statistics and make bold political statements. I had no problem with this. In one short chapter, Maine lists numerical facts pertaining to the Shah of Iran, the Palestinian debate, Negro segregation, the uprising in Hungary, the racism of Winston Churchill, and the $40.8 billion/year defense budget from 1955-1957, but then he goes on to punctuate this list by stating that K. is “ignorant of any of these numbers and any others.”
Sadly, I was ignorant as well, as I imagine were most readers. We are not that much more aware than K. is, I guess. Is that why so many people find this novel uncomfortable? Whatever the case, it worked for me.
On those criteria, the book holds up well. Indeed, "Monster, 1959" is full of details about the 1950s, about cultural and political turmoil, and about the creature that serves as the centerpiece. This forty-foot tall monster, named K., is wrought with great skill and nuance; of this, there is no doubt. I found myself drawn into the creature's story as he is pulled from a South Pacific island and taken to America. Inevitably, he will be exploited for money. The comparisons to "King Kong" are many. Perhaps too many. I kept waiting for the story to veer from that well-known plot, only to find it rehashing it with a bit more violence and sexual perversity, ala Chuck Palahnuik.
From Chuckie P., this would be a tame but expected story, although it fails to ever deliver on its deep social homilies. (If anything Palahnuik has become "preachy" with his nihilistic vision.) Maine seems to try his hand at a similar style, but succeeds only a few times at transcending the "King Kong" story and making it anything fresh, vital, or important.
I love Maine's writing, his creativity, and I'll give his next book a chance. It was fun to see him try something different, but the only character I could truly root for was K., and K's destiny seemed evident from the first four or five wonderfully rendered chapters. The rest was a bumpy ride.