The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
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Bruno Littlemore is quite unlike any chimpanzee in the world. Precocious, self-conscious and preternaturally gifted, young Bruno, born and raised in a habitat at the local zoo, falls under the care of a university primatologist named Lydia Littlemore. Learning of Bruno's ability to speak, Lydia takes Bruno into her home to oversee his education and nurture his passion for painting. But for all of his gifts, the chimpanzee has a rough time caging his more primal urges. His untimely outbursts ultimately cost Lydia her job, and send the unlikely pair on the road in what proves to be one of the most unforgettable journeys -- and most affecting love stories -- in recent literature. Like its protagonist, this novel is big, loud, abrasive, witty, perverse, earnest and amazingly accomplished. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore goes beyond satire by showing us not what it means, but what it feels like be human -- to love and lose, learn, aspire, grasp, and, in the end, to fail.
immediately detected it—the color drained from her face, her eyes widened in fear, and she said: “Shit! My mom’s home.” Downstairs, the dog went berserk with yapping; keys tinkled, shoes hit the floor. Then the voice of a woman calling: “Emily?” “What should we do?” I said. “You stay here,” she whispered. “I’ll deal with her. She knows she’s not allowed to come in. She respects my personal space.” (What therapeutic language!) “If anybody comes in they’ll knock first. So hide if you hear a
she possibly want? Financial reparations? To squeeze blood from a stone? The only sane response is to ignore her utterly. Should she call again, you must inform her that I have at long last died of starvation. Come now, Bruno. Eat shrimp.” Leon delicately licked the beer froth from his mustaches, made a series of nipping noises with his tongue and lips and ordered another round, another shrimp appetizer, and three shots of whiskey. Audrey gamely knocked jiggers with us and we all drank. Audrey
flower—especially a rose—ought to be a different color from its stem, at least for contrast’s sake. I entered the flower shop. I walked into a lush blast of fragrance and humidity, and selected one dozen long-stemmed green roses. I had the pencil-mustached man behind the counter roll them up in a cone of cellophane and then in another cone of decorative paper. I carefully carried them out in the hand that didn’t hold my suitcase. Their smell was as intoxicating as wine. I had a little money
fell asleep, my heavy-lidded slumber comporting me away inside myself to other worlds, my simple brain steeped in a warm bath of primitive dreams. I awoke the next morning to see three faces—those of Norman Plumlee, Prasad, and Lydia—scowling at me in disapproval. Well, the stoic faces of Plumlee and Prasad scowled in disapproval; they clearly did not like what I had done in the night to my cage furnishings—that is, destroy and scatter them—but on Lydia’s face was not what I would call a scowl
probably did not wave its arms or clap its hands or nod its head or speak in its quacking voice more than a total of ten or fifteen seconds before Lydia called a halt to the experiment. Lydia signaled Tal to stop what she was doing. She could see at once that whatever effect they had been hoping for with this experiment (amusement?) was not happening, but rather I was afraid. Tal reached into her mouth and removed some sort of spit-slimy piece of metal. Then she removed her arm from the body of