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 by Daniel Glick X
Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick
  • 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

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: New World, Inc.
    New World, Inc.
    by Simon Targett, John Butman
    When we think about the founding of America, we typically envision Pilgrims in black garb and boxy ...
  • Book Jacket: New World, Inc.
    New World, Inc.
    by Simon Targett, John Butman
    When we think about the founding of America, we typically envision Pilgrims in black garb and boxy ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ensemble
    The Ensemble
    by Aja Gabel
    In May 1994, the members of the Van Ness String Quartet are completing their final graduate recital ...
  • Book Jacket: The Electric Woman
    The Electric Woman
    by Tessa Fontaine
    In 2010, author Tessa Fontaine's mother had a near-fatal hemorrhagic stroke, leaving her with a...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Harbor of Spies by Robin Lloyd

A captivating thriller-at-sea set in Spanish colonial Havana in the 1860s.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Eternal Life
    by Dara Horn

    The award-winning author returns with an ingenious novel about what it would mean to live forever.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Comedown

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin

A blistering dark comedy that explores delineating lines of race, class, religion, and time.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

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.