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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2003, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Prologue
A Free Trip Around the World

In the middle of the night, after my daughter Zoe woke me for the third time because she was afraid of the snakes, I wondered, not for the first time, whether this trip had really been such an inspired idea. Earlier, Zoe had been complaining about leeches, and before that mosquitoes, and it dawned on me that unless you were raised in the rainforest, accustomed to strangler figs and spiders the size of gerbils, Borneo was a pretty forbidding environment. For a nine-year-old girl reared in suburban Colorado, this place looked downright menacing. My thirteen-year-old son Kolya, also awakened by his sister, didn't help things when he authoritatively informed Zoe that, since she was the smallest mammal among us, any predator would obviously eat her first.

I shot Kolya a venomous look that temporarily silenced him and reassured Zoe that it was unlikely that snakes could board the 55-foot houseboat (called a klotok) where we were sleeping, moored on the banks of the Sekonyer River in southern Kalimantan. She wasn't persuaded. Zoe knew the serpents were lurking. Heading upriver earlier that afternoon, past suffocating green jungle crawling from riverbanks and proboscis monkeys hanging from trees like misshapen, mischievous fruit, we'd noticed a sudden movement in the water. Peering ahead, we felt certain it was a crocodile. We were wrong. The animal's head, although almost as big as a crocodile's, belonged to a 20-foot-long python with a body circumference only slightly smaller than my thigh. We gaped with disbelief as the python disappeared into the murky water, leaving deceptively minor ripples.

As the ripples receded, we became especially attentive to other motions in the silty ribbon of river that carried us deeper into the jungle. I felt acutely aware of the reassuring diesel engine chug that muted the unfamiliar and suddenly ominous chirps and creaks and rustles emanating from the overgrown banks. We moved forward from the deck, shaded by a blue plastic canopy jerry-rigged on metal poles, and positioned ourselves on the bow like sentries. Within five minutes, we spotted another serpentine motion in the river and glimpsed a much smaller bright green reptile with a classic triangular-shaped head, slithering with startling speed toward the port-side shore: a pit viper, one of the world's most poisonous snakes.

I held Zoe's hand, tried to convey my amazement rather than fear. In the space of five minutes we had seen proboscis monkeys, with their bulbous, clown-like noses, a species that didn't live anywhere else on the planet--as well as a python and a pit viper. This was what it was all about for me, heading upriver into Heart of Darkness territory with my two children--a voyage to the headwaters of grief, loss, and--who knows?--possibly even the source of healing and grace after such momentous transitions in our lives.

Dual tragedies had propelled the three of us into orbit: my older brother's sudden death from cancer, and the departure of their mother, my wife, after our wrenching divorce. The weight of those losses accompanied us as surely as our backpacks filled with shorts, underwear, Game Boys, guidebooks, traveler's checks, portable CD players, DVDs, mosquito netting, bug spray, asthma medicine, malaria pills, antibiotics, extra passport pictures, my laptop, and Kolya's skateboard.

After a treacherous passage through the past few years, a long, open-ended journey had beckoned to me like a Siren's song. Hitting the road had always served me in times of transition as an entrée into a reflective trance, as a tool of personal reinvention, as literal and metaphorical escape. For much of my life, I had sought psychic salve in the thrill of discovery amidst wild, unfamiliar places and among unpredictable traveling companions. Borneo certainly qualified as wild and unfamiliar, and my two children effortlessly supplied the unpredictability.

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!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...
  • Book Jacket: I Contain Multitudes
    I Contain Multitudes
    by Ed Yong
    If a stranger were to accost you on the street and tell you that, from birth, you have never been ...
  • Book Jacket: Night of the Animals
    Night of the Animals
    by Bill Broun
    Debut novelist Bill Broun is a gentle, exquisite literary surgeon. His protagonist, 90-year-old ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.