Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Recommendation 3: Me Cheeta

Out of nowhere comes a comic masterpiece. Originally published anonymously last year (before the author was 'outed' as first-timer James Lever), Me Cheeta: the autobiography is the personal story of 'the oldest non-human primate in the world', best known as Tarzan's constant companion.

And what a story it is - blisteringly funny, filthy and surreal. The 'memoir' parodies celebrity autobiographies, but it's much more than that. We see Hollywood from Cheeta's simultaneously innocent and worldly-wise perspective, and at the heart of the book is his love for Johnny Weissmuller, culminating in a devastatingly sad final encounter in Acapulco as the great swimmer sits by the side of a pool, an old broken man.

Also, make sure you don't neglect one of the funniest indexes ever compiled.

Cheeta's real-life website is here. Nicolas Lezard's review in the Guardian here calls the book by some margin the most audacious, funny and even moving novel that I have come across in years.

[added 29.7.09 - Me Cheeta has been deservedly longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.]

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