Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Cheese Monkeys

My baby sister gave me this book over the Christmas Holidays. I adore Chip Kidd's work as a graphic designer. In fact, the cover to Soon I Will Be Invincible was designed by him. I was a little leery of Kidd as a fiction writer, but Nache loved the book, so I gave it a try.
Cheese Monkeys tells the story of Happy, who goes to college in the 1950's and through a set of circumstances, ends up in a graphic design class. It is not, by any stretch, what you would expect a tale of school life to be. For starters, I would not classify this as a novel, more like a series of vignettes. That is not a knock on the work. It actually makes it easier to read, and not so concerned with where you left off when you take a break from reading. (Although this book is such an easy read, most will read it in one sitting)
The problem lies in the fact that even in 270 pages, you don't really get a feel for the characters. Everyone comes off as two dimensional. Again, that would be fine, except, without much of a plot, there is nothing much to hold you to the story.
When you get to the big climactic scene at the end, you find yourself not very invested in the resolution (which is weak and a cop out in my opinion). The story doesn't end so much as it just stops. I admit, the idea at the end is very clever, it's just not fully realized, and to be honest, has been done before with more success.
As I think back on this book, I have to remind myself that I did enjoy it for the most part, with the exception of the ending. This is the biggest trap authors can fall into: Writing a good (or even great) novel, and ruining it with a sub par ending. I shouldn't have to remind myself that this was a good read. You are supposed to just know that when you close the book.