e-book The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

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I recommend this book to anyone who isn't afraid of being offended and sometimes disgusted. It is remarkable for its use of language and descriptive imagery, not to mention an expansive use of vocabulary. Hale reaches deeply into many areas, including philosophy, religion, and the nature of what it means to be human. Of course it is far-fetched and unrealistic, but put that aside and enjoy this book. Get past some of the more repulsive parts and get over it. Four stars instead of five?

It sometimes goes on a bit too long, and dragged a bit in the second half. I also recommend Hale's short story collection, called "The Fat Artist". One person found this helpful. Interested in a story about a chimp that learns how to think, talk and act like a human? This is the book for you. However, if you're looking for a plausible explanation of how such a thing could happen, this is not the book for you.

Likewise, if you're squeamish, you may wish to look elsewhere. The conceit of a chimp that develops human-like thought is fraught with possibilities and author Benjamin Hale generally delivers. How does the member of another species view we crazy humans? How can our odd behavior be understood by an entity that previously had no knowledge of us?

Hale uses "Bruno" to see our world through fresh eyes, much as a precocious child might. There's a lot of fun in that and Hale's intricate prose makes this exploration fun. Bruno's not always so likeable. He is, after all an animal. And, despite his eventual erudition and refinement, some of his behavior throughout the book shockingly reminds you of that. Despite generally enjoying this tale, there were several things that bothered me about it. She has very few speaking lines and their entire "relationship" occurs almost exclusively through Bruno's simple assertions.

This seemed so odd that I began to suspect that Bruno was an unreliable narrator.


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  • A Review of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale.

I began to think that he was simply making the whole thing up. For instance, at one point, Bruno has to get help for an unconscious Lydia and runs to an upstairs neighbor asking for an ambulance to be called. No account is given of the neighbor's reaction to being greeted by a talking chimp. Bruno simply says "it may have happened this way", hinting perhaps that it didn't.

Again, the possibility of an unreliable narrator is raised Despite these significant flaws, this is still an enjoyable and well-written if not perfectly plotted read. Hale is clearly a talented writer and I look forward to his next effort. See all 91 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published 1 year ago. Published on June 12, Published on February 7, Published on December 28, Published on November 5, Published on October 18, Published on September 5, Published on March 12, Published on February 24, Published on November 13, What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?

The rise, of course, is that Bruno Littlemore, chimp extraordinaire, learns to speak. Think Harold Bloom with baser instincts and a higher passion for peaches. Why does Bruno talk so much? Because now he can. As Bruno works his way into the speaking world, an early conversation goes something like:. But English does come, and Bruno masters it. In fact, he becomes a creative genius, painting, putting on Shakespeare, turning into somewhat of a renaissance ape. Plot wise, I'm hones This book was verbose and under normal circumstances might be intolerable for pages of verbiage.

Plot wise, I'm honestly not sure what to say about this book. I didn't dislike it but I wouldn't say I enjoyed it. I read it within a week, so It wasn't a dreary novel I had to slowly force my way through. That said, I wasn't expecting the sexual elements of this story or to read them so vividly described.

Review of Benjamin Hale's 'Evolution of Bruno Littlemore': Aping human love - The Washington Post

At one point I actually moaned and flung the book across the room to get it away from me. I was, for a time, disgusted. Not by Bruno but Lydia and the entire conception of her. I found every action, every thought, every painful sentence concerning their relationship post-intimacy repulsive. When her storyline came to fruition I was actually without sympathy. She passed out of the story and I didn't miss her. I was at a loss throughout the novel to see Bruno interacting with certain people the way he did or rather being reacted to?

The thought of a teenage girl beside him on a couch deciding she wants to kiss him for example. Hairless or no, a chimp is quite visibly a chimp. I did find it a little bit annoying also, that at certain moments of excitement, Bruno would speak along the lines of 'but I won't go into detail' and certain scenes were omitted, while at least pages of superfluous detail were left.

So I don't know about this book. It wasn't bad but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. It would certainly be interesting to read an entirely different work by the same author. Jan 25, Robert rated it liked it. I was excited to read this, since blogger Mimi Smartypants, who reads an inhuman number of books, gave it four stars a VERY rare rating for her , and while it certainly was very sharp and funny, with lots of amusing references to culture of both the highbrow and lowbrow varieties, in the end I didn't find it all that amazing.

It felt sort of like a fascinating writing experiment carried too far. Sort of like those movies that get made out of Saturday Night Live sketch characters, which work as I was excited to read this, since blogger Mimi Smartypants, who reads an inhuman number of books, gave it four stars a VERY rare rating for her , and while it certainly was very sharp and funny, with lots of amusing references to culture of both the highbrow and lowbrow varieties, in the end I didn't find it all that amazing.

Sort of like those movies that get made out of Saturday Night Live sketch characters, which work as sketches but just don't hold up for an entire feature length film. This was a book with lots of enjoyable moments that just didn't add up to a whole, satisfying novel. In part, the novel was an attempt at bildungsroman, but it just didn't capture the element of growth whether real or ironic. What was being passed off as growth felt more like an excuse for the author to throw in some not particularly engaging social criticism and put it in the mouth of his protagonist near the end of the story.

There was also an element of the naif encountering human society, and thus giving us a fresh perspective on ourselves a la Stranger in a Strange Land , and the book was fairly successful in that respect. It's a very hard premise to maintain, though, and I think that somewhat predictably, the attempt to maintain this premise was pretty uneven. Finally, there's a strong aspect of an unreliable narrator, which is used to interject a certain surreality into the book, and I think this was interesting and mostly successful, but also sometimes used more as a joke, and sometimes used a more serious literary device, and this back and forth made it harder for me to stay interested.

Sep 20, Hayley rated it it was amazing. Some writers focus their craft with laser precision, building it piece by piece like a type of architecture. Some writers make me so sick with their talent. Some writers often arrogant with their skill, filling pages with leaps of precise logic and seemingly effortlessly composed metaphor.


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Benjamin Hale, makes me forgot about the actual craft of writing. Humbert Humbert style, he is prone to seducing the reader to seeing the facts just as he sees them while ignoring any traces and believe me, there are many traces of arrogance or moral ambiguity. Bruno pontificates on language with nothing short on lust. But reading it was an act of simply reading; not pausing to try and analyze his words like an architect examines a building.

This comes specifically from the narrative. Bruno is an unlikable character, but he draws you in. The prose is authoritative, but the irony of the ultimate outsider seeing humanity and craving it is what allows this novel to transcend. Sep 03, K rated it really liked it. Like my sister, who recommended this to me, I would normally not be turned on by a book about a monkey. But this was one of the departures from my reading comfort zone that actually paid off. In this wonderfully written novel, Bruno Littlemore recounts his autobiography -- his birth at the zoo, his participation on scientific experiments leading to increasing consciousness on his part and ultimately to his gaining the ability to speak, his participation in a variety of human interactions and expe Like my sister, who recommended this to me, I would normally not be turned on by a book about a monkey.

In this wonderfully written novel, Bruno Littlemore recounts his autobiography -- his birth at the zoo, his participation on scientific experiments leading to increasing consciousness on his part and ultimately to his gaining the ability to speak, his participation in a variety of human interactions and experiences, and his finally committing a murder and being returned to captivity. Good story, interesting characters, and a lot to think about as Bruno's experiences and ambivalence toward the human race mimic those of any minority individual struggling to fit in with the dominant culture while simultaneously despising particular aspects of that group.

Bruno's story also challenges our understanding of what it means to be human and whether, why, and how that differs from being an animal. Minus one star for some unnecessarily draggy parts and for the bestiality -- I consider myself a pretty liberal reader, but that was a bit much for my sensibilities. Still -- a worthwhile, enjoyable, and provocative read that I recommend. Jun 23, Sultan rated it did not like it. I'm reserving one-star reviews for books that I was unable to finish, and this was one of them. While Hale shows a great deal of potential as a writer, the tone and voice of this book were very uneven, fluctuating from pompous to crude to colloquial to intellectual—which would not necessarily be a negative thing if the transitions were handled smoothly, but, well, they're not.

After pages or so, the book starts to move along at a snail's pace—while I can appreciate the care that the author t I'm reserving one-star reviews for books that I was unable to finish, and this was one of them. After pages or so, the book starts to move along at a snail's pace—while I can appreciate the care that the author takes in providing descriptions from a chimp's point of view he does it well , there came a point at which these descriptions seemed to become more important than the character itself, thereby severely stalling both development and action.

I put it down nearly two months ago after reading pages or so, and I haven't felt the slightest inclination to return to it. Anyone who compares this book to Lolita deserves to be punched in the throat. Jun 03, Brian rated it really liked it. This book was quite unique. I've never quite read anything like it, and it's mostly in a good way. A monkey essentially becomes a human and falls in love with a human girl, who falls love with him in return.

The evolution, as the title states is very gradual, and takes place throughout the book. The one thing I could say about this book that was negative was that it was written in a very pretentious language, as "indicated" by the narrator. However, it was definitely readable, as well as enjoyab This book was quite unique. However, it was definitely readable, as well as enjoyable. There were many things that stuck out, in particular, some of the horrifying descriptions of both the perverse and violent things that occur in this book.

I don't want to spoil them for anyone, but I will say that while they left me a bit squeamish, none of them made me want to stop reading this. In fact, I read this book fairly quickly, finishing the last pages today in a marathon reading session. Overall, one of the better books this year! Jan 29, Lisa rated it liked it.

Benjamin Hale discusses Voyage to Kazohinia

I finally finished this page book! When I picked it up at the library, I was surprised to see how huge it was. Normally, I love thick books, but somehow I knew this wouldn't be a good thing here. Bruno Littlemore, a human trapped in an ape's body, is, to sum it up in one word: See, I can do what he can't! The other problem is that Hale crams too much in one novel. In doing so, he riffs on different things about our society - all of which is amusing and often on target. He's being lauded for taking a big risk with this novel - rightly so.

If only it didn't feel as if the evolution was happening in real-time Aug 02, Amanda Peterson rated it really liked it.

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I read this book a number of years ago when I checked it out from the library because Entertainment Weekly did a review on it that had me intrigued. Here we have both a loss of innocence and evolution story wrapped up in a very interesting enigma named Bruno. A chimpanzee that I can definitely say is the most human of any character I have seen in fiction.

I mentioned this book for I read this book a number of years ago when I checked it out from the library because Entertainment Weekly did a review on it that had me intrigued. I mentioned this book for a college paper as books that would make great films if given the green light and while the aforementioned Shape of Water can maybe help this book along the subject matter might raise more than a few eyebrows for sure. But then again, something can always be controversial when it makes you think. Jun 25, M rated it it was amazing.

You know those moments when you pick up a book and it's love at first sight? Whatever it is that does it for you - language, premise, originality - grabs you from the beginning and never lets go, and you start to think that all the other books you've been reading were such a shameful waste of time because this - THIS - is the book.

Benjamin Hale (author)

What's even crazier is I don't even know how I got this book to begin with - it showed up on my reserve list one day at the library, but I'm pretty sure God Himself t You know those moments when you pick up a book and it's love at first sight? What's even crazier is I don't even know how I got this book to begin with - it showed up on my reserve list one day at the library, but I'm pretty sure God Himself though I can't see Him liking this book said, "Marg has really not been reading enough of These Kinds of Books, that remind her why she loves reading in the first place.

Here ya go, kiddo. Bruno Littlemore is a monkey, ape, chimp, whatever, go ahead and stone me GR animal lovers because I will call a bonobo a hominoid or whatever and I can't imagine I ever would have thought to pick up a book about a monkey, so, I do believe in miracles who is penning his memoirs reflecting upon a most unusual existence.

He started off as so many of his type do, behind bars at a zoo, having no knowledge of the outside world, only to be taken for experiments and discovered to be a most superior animal - one not that far from being human. Bruno's evolution is his de-apifying as he is seduced by the human world. He falls for the scientist who has been taking care of him, and crosses more and more boundaries until they all seem to slip away - except when they don't.

I don't want to give away too much since, as is most unusual, this is so worth reading and going in with little knowledge that I don't want to spoil the ride, so I will instead extol the virtues of this novel. Benjamin Hale, you are awesome. This is your first novel?? Please don't let it be the last.

The vocabulary, the precise sentences, the imagery, the metaphors. The beautiful comparisons to the Bible, Shakespeare, and pretty much everything wonderful. I didn't want to skip a sentence because I knew I would be missing out hence it taking me longer to read this book than it normally would. SO thought provoking and intricate. In some ways this reminded me of Flowers for Algernon in that this is a real story of loss of innocence and whether or not people should remain who they are, reach higher, or if the reaching is an act of corruption.

It also reminded me of Frankenstein in the way of science going too far and how important looks are. However, you can skim past and Bruno is so human like in the narrative that it doesn't even seem so awful. As an interesting aside, his lady friend shifts from hetero to homo to bestial which I think is such an interesting commentary in itself, but I need to wait until someone I know reads this to get into that. I will also say that very quickly you willingly suspend your disbelief in this story because the writing is so rich, but that suspension will be tested several times as the novel goes on and sometimes it's a bit much the purple fingers never give Bruno away as he assimilates?

In short, this story challenges religious right wingers, as well as scientists, as well as animal activists, as well as what it means to be human.

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It is so very awesome and everyone must go read it now. View all 7 comments. Mar 28, mark rated it liked it Recommends it for: I struggle with this review — on the one hand it IS amazing and on the other — disappointing. I think Hale bit off a little more Hehheh than he could chew. I was really into this story until page and then I almost quit reading.

I knew what happened, and had decided that Hale, the author, was coming across as a nerdy creep. This story of Bruno the chimp who acquirer I struggle with this review — on the one hand it IS amazing and on the other — disappointing. I saw the rain glaze her skin. The echoes of rain crackling and the drumming on the roof warbled around in the big room, and waves of water crashed each other down the sides of the windows, warping the view of what lay outside the building, … pages A flash of lightning asks a question of the clouds … the thunder answers.

Rain whips down … a needly spray. The air is mist. Raindrops patter … The rain is warm … a monsoon rain. Now the wind blows the rain sideways … the rain lashes the earth with thick ropes of water … The rain crashes down with renewed ferocity … The rain slows to a dribble, and then a patter, and then we cannot tell if it is still raining … pages There are pages between those two rain rampages. I feel for this boy, and he is still a boy of 28 years. This is a thought provoking book, but it is far too long and tedious. Maybe it should have been a graphic novel?

Aug 01, Gary Schroeder rated it really liked it. Interested in a story about a chimp that learns how to think, talk and act like a human? This is the book for you. However, if you're looking for a plausible explanation of how such a thing could happen, this is not the book for you. Likewise, if you're squeamish, you may wish to look elsewhere. The conceit of a chimp that develops human-like thought is fraught with possibilities and author Benjamin Hale generally delivers.

How does the member of another species view we crazy humans? How can our Interested in a story about a chimp that learns how to think, talk and act like a human? How can our odd behavior be understood by an entity that previously had no knowledge of us? Hale uses "Bruno" to see our world through fresh eyes, much as a precocious child might. There's a lot of fun in that and Hale's intricate prose makes this exploration fun.

Bruno's not always so likeable. He is, after all an animal. And, despite his eventual erudition and refinement, some of his behavior throughout the book shockingly reminds you of that. Despite generally enjoying this tale, there were several things that bothered me about it. She has very few speaking lines and their entire "relationship" occurs almost exclusively through Bruno's simple assertions.

This seemed so odd that I began to suspect that Bruno was an unreliable narrator. I began to think that he was simply making the whole thing up. For instance, at one point, Bruno has to get help for an unconscious Lydia and runs to an upstairs neighbor asking for an ambulance to be called.

No account is given of the neighbor's reaction to being greeted by a talking chimp. Bruno simply says "it may have happened this way", hinting perhaps that it didn't. Again, the possibility of an unreliable narrator is raised Despite these significant flaws, this is still an enjoyable and well-written if not perfectly plotted read. Hale is clearly a talented writer and I look forward to his next effort. Feb 14, Osvaldo rated it really liked it Recommended to Osvaldo by: Once again I am frustrated by my inability to grant stars on Goodreads. I would give this 3 stars if I could.

I more than liked it. I less than really liked it. I am sure Ben Hale would know a good word for the liminality of my liking - or at least, he'd know how to look up good one in the kick-ass thesaurus he must have. Despite being a long book I flew through it - though I must admit there were a few parts I kind of glossed over thinking Hale's editor could have done a better job of explaining that you don't need three pages to explain finding the beauty salon that doubles as a backroom plastic surgeon, or many other examples of verbosity that could be excused by means of the talking chimp's idiosyncratic delivery, but that nevertheless could have been conveyed without the reader made to suffer through the thickness with which language is laid - but then again language is the central theme of this novel.

Language makes us human. Language composes the world, and Bruno's story is really the story of language. Still, the book could be about to pages shorter and not suffer. Shakepeare's black brute slave to Prospero is a sympathetic figure in contemporary examinations of the play and Hale and thus, Bruno plays this up - but at the same time this metaphor leads to the unfortunate parallel between the colonial constructions of primitive blackness and an ape - problematic no matter how sympathetic the depiction.

I can't help but think, however, that because of this not despite it there is something productive rising from the text, that buried in its florid vocabulary there is a critique of language's privileged position in determining humanity and thus humanity's monopoly on value and dignity. Thus the West's "textual attitude" see Said towards the rest of the world and its peoples. In the end, Bruno's desire to return to his animality seems to be saying as much.

My biggest disappointment is that a book that does rest its proposition so heavily on The Tempest does not mention race and "colonial consciousness" see Fanon at all, and that a figure as equally observant and he is occasionally clueless as Bruno Littlemore would not have something to say on the subject, especially in a historically racially turbulent environment like Chicago. It is compelling and worth the time. In The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, Benjamin Hale introduces us to Bruno, a chimpanzee with language skills and a knowledge of art, music and literature that would put most Renaissance Men to shame who considers himself more human than animal.

Fortunately, the good far outweighs the bad. I loved Bruno as a narrator, despite the fact that he was equal In The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, Benjamin Hale introduces us to Bruno, a chimpanzee with language skills and a knowledge of art, music and literature that would put most Renaissance Men to shame who considers himself more human than animal.

I loved Bruno as a narrator, despite the fact that he was equal parts insightful and insufferable. I even loved the relationship between Bruno and Lydia. Before I go any further: In the hands of a lesser writer, this could have been a disaster. That award goes to the frog- oh God, the frog Now for the bad part, which is that this otherwise amazing book took a bizarre and frustrating turn after Bruno escaped from the research facility and found himself in New York City.

Reilly and Bruno the Talking Chimp as his equally ridiculous sidekick. That being said, this was still a wonderful book. Jul 03, Paula Margulies rated it really liked it. This freakishly compelling Humbert Humbert meets Curious George tale had me at hello. There is brilliant writing "Like Satan," the main character, a preternaturally gifted chimpanzee named Bruno Littlemore, says, "I am a beautiful loser.

Even so, I found Bruno too soulless and self-centered for my taste. Despite his initial protestations of undying love for the strangely childlike researcher, Lydi This freakishly compelling Humbert Humbert meets Curious George tale had me at hello. Bruno heads to New York after escaping yet-another scientific research center and spends his time and attention on Emily, a spoiled suburban teenager; Leon, a disreputable street performer; and the narcissistic joys of cosmetic surgery.


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Once Leon and Bruno's underground production of The Tempest is raided by police, Bruno suddenly remembers Lydia formerly his love, his life, his Lolita and heads back to Chicago to find her. Despite the author's attempt to resurrect our admiration for Bruno with a last-ditch effort to save another chimpanzee from his nemesis, Dr. Norman Plumlee, the magic was broken for this reader. I enjoyed the premise -- that an animal could learn enough about human speech and emotion to suffer the slings and arrows of an examined life -- but once Bruno drops his yearning for Lydia, I found him to be so self-absorbed that he ended up unsympathetic and, ultimately, unlikeable.

This book will delight literary readers with the artfully crafted tone of Bruno's eloquent voice and the skillfully woven references to Eliot, Milton, Shakespeare, and others like them laced throughout. Despite its disappointments, this is a remarkable work from a debut novelist, and a must-read for those who enjoy humans, and chimpanzees, who play with words.

Sep 10, Paul rated it liked it Shelves: A long novel widely held by critics to be profound, I finished it wondering whether in fact it really is that profound. Benjamin Hale's concept is sound: It isn't that great a philosophical leap for me to see that the lines are blurred The concept, though, does give the author ample room to poke fun at Actual rating: The concept, though, does give the author ample room to poke fun at human pretensions, to set up some interestingly comic situations, and to present the reader with perhaps the ultimately unreliable narrator: Bruno, the chimpanzee with a human nose.

About halfway through this long novel, an autobiography in progress being dictated by the imprisoned Bruno to his human amanuensis Gwen, I began to doubt much of what Bruno relates. I think that is the author's intention Bruno provides hint after hint he's simply making things up