Excerpt from Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Monkey Dancing

A Father, Two Kids and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth

By Daniel Glick

Monkey Dancing

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Along the way, I collected little aphorisms that bolstered my decision to so something so rash. Like treasures found at each stop in a scavenger hunt, people offered them unsolicited. A friend who had been in the car as a child when his father had crashed it and died said, "When you come face to face with death, you realize that life isn't endless." While waiting in the dentist's office for Kolya's teeth cleaning, I found a book quoting Mark Twain, that wry wanderer: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." In another place, Goethe weighed in on the subject: "Whatever you can do, or believe you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

The words resonated like a coach's pep talk, countering the voices (some of them mine) asking what the kids would do about school, what I would do about work, why I was being so damned irresponsible, and whether I really planned to take the kids to Borneo, for Chrissakes? What would I do if they were lost, or if somebody stole Zoe from a toilet stall in the Ho Chi Minh airport, surgically altered her face, and sold her to a wealthy Bedouin on the black market? What if we all contracted dengue fever and yellow fever and rheumatic fever and malaria and dysentery and cholera and hepatitis A and B? How could I break the news to Rebecca?

Uh, Rebecca, hi, this is Dan. I'm calling from Saigon.

How are the kids? Uh, well, Kolya's doing fine. He's growing like a weed. He likes the food here.

And Zoe?

That's sort of what I'm calling about. Interpol's on the case…

We threw a going-away party for ourselves with all our friends, a wild, tequila-laced bacchanalia, letting rip for the grown-ups, a group catharsis. "As soon as you leave, you know you'll be a folk hero to all of us," a musician friend told me, leaning on a margarita as the sun set over the Rockies from our back deck. I thought, yes, why not, we'll become folk heroes! Let people tell tales of our exploits (posted on the Web, of course). Let them say they'd like to do the same thing someday, knowing they never will themselves. A friend approached me, serious. "I've been doing genealogical research, Dan," he said, and I wonder why. "I found out you're my father." I looked at him blankly, not getting it. He helped me out. "You have to take me with you."

Shortly after Rebecca and I separated, I began dating Tory. She and I had met through mutual friends on a backcountry ski trip, and after Tory heard that my wife and I had separated, she offered condolences as a veteran of an eleven-year marriage that went south. With alluring blue-green eyes and a knowledgeable guide's compassion (Tory had divorced three years ahead of me), she offered a tantalizing diversion. After a single date, she told me she was moving to Idaho to become a wilderness ranger for the summer and invited me to come up and hike.

I smiled wanly and told her that wouldn't be likely, given my single-dad status.

Three months after Rebecca and I separated, she and the kids visited her family in Maine for ten days. I had made plans to go backpacking with a buddy, but he canceled at the last minute because of an injury. I remembered Tory's offer, called, and asked if I could still meet her. We backpacked in the Sawtooths and the White Clouds, then met on her days off in Jackson Hole to climb and frolick in the Tetons, where she had once been a rock-climbing search-and-rescue ranger. It felt fabulous to sense such a strong attraction to her athletic body, to the smell of her thick, shoulder-length brown hair, to her grace and sleekness as we dove naked into mountain lakes. I wondered: Could there be life after Rebecca?

Copyright 2003 by Daniel Glick. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher PublicAffairs.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois
  2.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin

All Discussions

Who Said...

I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.