I went and saw matt_ruff read from Bad Monkeys last night at the University Bookstore. While the reading was sparsely attended (Matt has, for the record, done a very nice job blanketing Seattle area bookstores over the last month with readings and, as this was the last one, I’m not unduly surprised that he gets the dregs of folk who haven’t heard him yet), it was a lot of fun hearing him read some of Jane’s adventures. Bad Monkeys is the leading contender for my favorite book this year (ahead of Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies, which is saying something because I’m a pretty huge fan of the Gentlemen Bastards).
The book has been getting excellent reviews, including a recent one from The New York Times, so you shouldn’t simply run out and snag a copy because I’m all soft for it. Why do I love it? Because it has a wonderfully articulate and unreliable narrator in Jane Charlotte, a woman who is recruited by a secret organization (second reason to love the book) to fight evil. Not crime, not tyranny, and not generalized malignancy. EVIL. Much havoc and hilarity ensures. And a little poignancy. And some clever riffs on Philip K. Dick (third reason).
I keep meaning to write up some more in-depth thoughts about the book, but other things have been getting in the way. I’ll just leave you with the one paragraph I’ve got written so far. The What If?s are compounded, each a step more surreal than the last. Until the question asked is: what if Good and Evil wanted to be sure before they executed someone. How would they test the psychological foundations? How would they suss out the inner secrets? The hidden passions? The ultimate primary reason you or I or anyone acts? And then, once they’ve ascertained this deep, probably unconscious, secret, how would they be sure they’ve got the right answer?