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
    Jun 2004, 384 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


My two children and I were tenuously recovering from these back-to-back January shocks when I saw a news article on coral reefs proclaiming that nearly half of them would die within my lifetime. The headline underscored what I already knew: that life forms were vanishing from this planet faster than you can say "Charles Darwin." In that moment, tragedy mixed with promise, and I decided it was time to take the kids to see a few of these wonders before they were gone.

"Before they're gone" became my mantra for this trip--with a triple entendre. The first, literal meaning directed me to show Kolya and Zoe this planet's amazing animals and environments before overpopulation, poverty, global climate change, pollution, and development maimed or destroyed them. The global devastation of wild places during my lifetime mirrored my other losses, touching me no less profoundly. In my years of traveling to where the wild things still are, I had experienced the magic of watching moose graze at sunrise near my backcountry campsite. I had felt the frisson of danger sizzle my neck hairs while horseback riding in grizzly country. I had internalized the pure spiritual wonder of red-tinged sunrays streaming from thunderclouds like a holy writ, while an autumn breeze brushed past like a whisper of God's breath. The cumulative effect, I realized, was that I had fallen in love with my planet.

My kids, raised on flashes of music videos and DSL Internet downloads, had only the barest suburban inklings of the natural world that I clung to as my spiritual core. Perhaps I could help them make a deeper connection during this trip. After all, I had spent much of my journalism career covering national and international environmental issues; I had the background and contacts to bring global environmental issues into Kolya's and Zoe's consciousness.

The trip's second goal instructed me to seize this otherwise inglorious personal transition and use it to spend time with my children before they left my reconfigured single father's nest. In the fall Kolya would start eighth grade and Zoe fourth, and I could already tell they would become fledglings too soon. I wanted to get to know them; I wanted them to know me. I wanted to forge a new family of three using adventure as our crucible.

Lastly, the big "before they're gone" loomed especially large: after witnessing my brother's untimely death at forty-eight, I knew viscerally that I possessed no guarantees regarding how long any of us would be around. Electing to do something drastic, I nominated an epic road trip.

I broached the subject with the kids in February, as the reality of Bob's death sunk in like the winter darkness. "How would you like," I said, putting on my best game show do-you-want-what's-behind-door-number-two announcer voice, "A Free Trip Around the World!" After a bit of bafflement about what I was saying, they realized I was serious. Zoe waxed immediately enthusiastic. Kolya negotiated: Could we go surfing someplace along the way? "Why not?" I replied. Could he take his skateboard? "Sure." They'd have to miss school, of course. Not a problem, or as we would later say, "no worries." Did they want an Australia-Southeast Asia-Japan swing, or maybe go all the way around the world? Around the world won unanimously.

In mid-March, the idea sprouted wings. I investigated air tickets, researched ecological case studies, and became a walking "to do" list: rent the house, pack, clean, get immunizations, and arrange to pay all my bills online from Internet cafés in Sydney, Singapore, Phnom Penh, Kathmandu, and elsewhere. For several months I was adding two more items to the list for every one I completed. We shopped and negotiated for Game Boys (there would be long plane and bus rides), a laptop with DVD capabilities (there would be times when entertainment would be at a premium), electrical connectors and adapters, and beneath-the-shorts passport holders, and argued over essential items (no, Zoe, you will not need high-heeled boots on this trip). I arranged for insurance of all sorts to be shifted or canceled or altered or prepaid (I'll need travel insurance--and if I change our health insurance policy, will Zoe's asthma be considered a preexisting condition?). At the last minute, I was still packing and cleaning while friends dropped by to run a vacuum or take out trash or just lend moral support.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.


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.