The backstory: I haven't read anything by Lydia Millet before, but Love in Infant Monkeys was one of the finalists for this year's Pulitzer Prize. It is not available on the Kindle, so I requested it from the library. Because it's only a seven-day check out, I read it first. I am not a person who loves short stories, although Elizabeth Crane convinces me I sometimes do. I vaguely knew of Lydia Millet, as I remember wanting to read her novel George Bush, Dark Prince of Love when it came out.
The basics & the verdict: Short story collections can be difficult to assess. There are always some stories more enjoyable than others. This collection works beautifully as a collection. All the stories deal with animals and celebrities, and each one is beautifully unique. Millet has taken tidbits and stories from the headlines and re-imagined them. The first story in the collection, "Sexing the Pheasant," is the story of Madonna hunting in England. It is absolutely brilliant. I read large portions of it out loud to Mr. Nomadreader, and I found myself constantly saying "this story is amazing" every few lines. Of course, the inevitable let down soon followed. I enjoyed all the stories in the collection, but "Sexing the Pheasant" was my favorite, so I felt a bit of disappointment as the book progressed. My second favorite was "Chomsky, Rodents" and took place at a trash dump. Overall: short story lovers will adore this collection, and so will the snarky intellectual crowd who adore Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and may be reticent to admit they enjoy The New Yorker as much as US Weekly (yes, that describes me). Those in the know will love the jokes, and those not in the know won't realize they missed them.
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5) - 5 stars to "Sexing the Pheasant" and "Chomsky, Rodents"
Length: 208 pages
Publication date: September 22, 2009
Source: my local public library
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