A thrilling work of fiction about our species, the meaning of family and the possibilities of love
COLIN McADAM has written for Harper's and The Walrus. His novel Some Great Thing won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book, and for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. His second novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and awarded the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize. A Beautiful Truth won the Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize 2013. He lives in Toronto.
Blending the story of a childless Vermont couple who adopt a chimpanzee named Looee with that of a lonely researcher who spends a lifetime monitoring the intellectual capabilities of chimps in his laboratory, award-winning Canadian novelist McAdam (Some Great Thing) has created a robust tale of love, loss, and the complexities of being alive. The portrayal of chimpanzees as individuals with memories isn't just a fictional device; the commonality of human and chimpanzee conceived here is achieved not by eliminating the traits that divide them but by illuminating the differences that unite them. McAdam portrays both humans and animals as deep wells of consciousness, capable of an extraordinary breadth of emotions. VERDICT With concise language, this heartbreaking tale of loneliness and remembrance reminds us that understanding is a process of growth and experience. Readers who enjoyed Benjamin Hale's The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore will find familiar themes working in McAdam's latest, which contributes significantly to the growing literature told from an animal's perspective.-Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
McAdam (Fall) investigates the social dynamics of great apes within the cages of a Florida research institute. Researcher David Kennedy watches over a troupe of chimpanzees, monitoring their interactions, administering social and cognitive tests in order "to defy Noam Chomsky's assertion that humans were unique for being born with language." Weighty themes underlie McAdam's spartan prose depicting the inner lives of research chimps. Craftily blurring species lines, McAdam doesn't limit himself to the chimp colony; alongside scenes at the Girdish Institute runs the story of Vermont couple Walt and Judy Ribke and their adopted chimp, Looee. In the aftermath of uterine surgery, Judy is momentarily buoyed by the arrival of Looee, purchased through a circus handler by Walt to ease his wife's disappointment. As Looee ages, McAdam uses his developmental stages to contrast chimps and humans. With his "mind of a four-year-old boy [and] the coordination and strength of an eighteen-year-old," Looee begins to pose serious problems for the Ribkes, even after construction of a stand-alone house. Inevitably, Looee is sent away to the Girdish Institute and encounters "dogpeople"-his word for other chimps-for the first time, bringing the novel's two storylines together. Brimming with ambition, McAdam delivers a thought-provoking foray into the not-so-dissimilar minds of our ape relatives. Agent: Doug Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for "A Beautiful Truth""McAdam's language reaches into that mysterious place where a word ends and a feeling begins." A Beautiful Truth" is a story about love and beauty and our dreams for our children and our inescapable loneliness. The characters, human and animal, are sad and honest and true. I could not put this novel down, and only when I finished it could I breathe again."--Kim Echlin, author of" The Disappeared ""A work of exquisite sensitivity and prowess, McAdams' tale is of two species astride not a divide but a continuum, of our longings and resiliencies and the fate we share: being stronger than we are evolved."--Alex Shakar, author of "Luminarium" "Haunting. Heartbreaking.... it is a tale of empathy and honesty, deftly told and beautifully rendered."--Will Ferguson, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of "419" The portrayal of chimpanzees as individuals with memories isn't just a fictional device; the commonality of human and chimpanzee conceived here is achieved not by eliminating the traits that divide them but by illuminating the differences that unite them.... With concise language, this heartbreaking tale of loneliness and remembrance reminds us that understanding is a process of growth and experience."--"Library Journa"l, STARRED REVIEW "As brutal as it is compassionate, "A Beautiful Truth" collapses the gaps between humans and chimpanzees, bringing us ever closer to the recognition that what we do to the chimps in our care has the moral power to indict us or to set us free, for in so many ways they are us and we are them."--Matt Bell, author of "In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods" "[A] sure-handed and mature work, expertly weaving together shifts in voice and point of view and making use of a poetic language full of direct, sensual metaphors.... There are no platitudes about the power of love and our need to feel for one another, but rather an unde