Green Monkey Dreams by Isobelle Carmody
EDIT: Though you may not be able to find the book in stores anymore, you can find the book on Allen & Unwin’s website: here Currently it costs $19.99 Australia Dollars, and there is free shipping to Australia and New Zealand. For international shipping, it will cost you $10 for the first book, and $5 for every additional book thereafter (with faster shipping costing $25 for the first book and $10 thereafter). You may find it elsewhere, so check around!
Now this book was first published back in 1996, and is actually a collection of 14 short stories, and I guarantee you that these are definitely some of the best, if not the best, short stories you will ever read (if I am wrong, I really want to know which short stories top them!)! It was republished this year, and I have been informed that it is now out of print, so if you are going to snap up a copy, you need to do so quickly. I am lucky enough to have just received a signed copy of the book from Isobelle Carmody herself for my contributions to the ‘Great E-Book debate‘ as part of her relaunch of another of her books ‘Greylands’ which is now available as an ebook and will be available later this year as a paperback (that site is now ‘closed’, as it was only up for just over a month but the site still exists). Some stores would have already run out of the print of ‘Green Monkey Dreams’ so you may have to do some hunting around to find a copy, but it is well worth the effort. (It is not available/no copies left on Amazon or the Book Depository at the moment, but is available at ‘Dymocks‘ in Australia). Or of course, a friend might have a copy or a local library (if you are lucky enough to have access to one with a copy)!
I am going to start spoiling a bit, so if you intend to read the book/buy your own copy, and don’t want to be spoiled at all (I won’t be doing too much though), stop reading now!!!, otherwise I’ll start by describing the book.
The 14 short stories would be amazing on their own (and in fact some of them were published in various places) but together they are fantastic. They aren’t majorly connected to one another, but there is recurring themes and little things (you’ll see if you read it) that appear over a couple of the stories. Now they are all fantasy, some are more out there than others, whereas some are definitely more real life but have a fantastical element to them. I won’t go into too much detail because I really don’t want to ruin anyone’s experience for them, because it is really a book you need to experience yourself. But I will say that some of the stories are haunting and sometimes shocking. They are all food for thought, and really do leave you thinking and wondering.
One thing I cannot stress enough is that Isobelle Carmody is an amazing, fantastic, awesome, inspirational fantasy writer. She creates such detailed worlds (14 of them in this book, that is an achievement in itself) over and over again, and they are all different. I cannot even imagine how she came up with these ideas and how she was able to put them together so well. Now I have to warn you that you may need an open mind to read this book, the first short story is quite out there (maybe a more real world one could have been put, but I don’t think that would have worked, because those were saved for some really powerful moments) and it may force some readers to walk away from the test, which would be really sad. Don’t get me wrong, it is a brilliant short story, but for those not familiar with Isobelle Carmody, and not really enjoying ‘full on’ fantasy, it might be confronting to have such an new and unfamiliar world thrust upon you (and there is only limited time to introduce a world, as these are short stories, with a combined page total just over 300). You may be slightly confused at first, but for me I was able to get into the worlds quickly and enjoy them. There are many surprises along the way (which I will not spoil) which blew me away, and I had not expected them to happen. It is not a kid’s book, I’m calling that now, and it deals with some mature themes (though there is no real swearing or sexual content or graphic scenes, some things a child or even young teen might be too confronted by to read) and I think it highlights that fantasy is not just for children, and Isobelle Carmody is the prime example of that.
I also think that it is a book that you should not be rushing through, you need to take your time, and split up the short stories, so you can have some time to ponder and digest each one. I think it is also of great benefit to re-read the stories, because there are surely going to be things you have missed. I have to say that this is my favourite collection of short stories, and I am so glad to have been able to read it, and I urge you to find a copy and enjoy.
There is another collection of short stories by Isobelle Carmody called ‘Metro Winds’ and this is much more easy to get a copy of as this year was the first publication. I have not read it yet, but if it is anything like Green Monkey Dreams, it will be amazing, I have a copy, and will report back once I have got a chance to read it all. In other literary news, I am currently reading ‘Without Warning’ by John Birmingham (another Australian author, I swear I don’t just read Australian books!) which is part of a trilogy of books, it is swet back in 2002-3 just before the start of the Iraq war/invasion and something big happens (if you want an idea, find the book/google it and read the blurb, or even just find out what the second book is called) and that event causes huge shock-waves around the world. It is a dense, detailed novel, but well worth a read!
“The Keeping Place’ starts tomorrow!!!