About the Book
Duncan Wheeler is a successful architect who savors the quotidian pleasures in life until a car accident leaves him severely paralyzed and haunted by the death of his young assistant. Now, Duncan isn’t sure what there is left to live for, when every day has become “a broken series of unsuccessful gestures.”
Duncan and his wife, Laura, find themselves in conflict as Duncan’s will to live falters. Laura grows desperate to help him. An art conservator who has her own relationship to the repair of broken things, Laura brings home a highly trained helper monkey-a tufted capuchin named Ottoline-to assist Duncan with basic tasks. Duncan and Laura fall for this sweet, comical, Nutella-gobbling little creature, and Duncan’s life appears to become more tolerable, fuller, and funnier. Yet the question persists: Is it enough?
Katharine Weber is a masterful observer of humanity, and Still Life with Monkey, full of tenderness and melancholy, explores the conflict between the will to live and the desire to die.
REVIEWS of Still Life With Monkey
In the New York Times Book Review, Lucy Scholes writes “Weber’s prose is precise, revealing rather than evocative; she seems to be aiming not to show her characters in their best light but rather to illuminate them from all angles, even the least flattering. Befitting the novel’s emphasis on the aesthetic, her style here is painterly: As in Oudry’s composition, attention to detailed realism is everything. “Still Life With Monkey” is profoundly humane even while it’s asking the most difficult questions.”
Karen Joy Fowler in the Washington Post calls the book
“a beautifully wrought paean of praise for the ordinary pleasures taken for granted by the able-bodied. In precise and often luminous prose, with intelligence and tenderness, Weber’s latest novel examines the question of what makes a life worth living.”
ADVANCE PRAISE for Still Life With Monkey
“Starred Review in Kirkus!
“Rigorously unsentimental yet suffused with emotion: possibly the best work yet from an always stimulating writer.”
“Weber’s sixth novel is a nuanced investigation of what is left when all of the ways one identifies oneself are wiped out in an instant . . . Beautiful, emotionally resonant storytelling.”—Booklist
“STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY is a brilliantly crafted novel, brimming with heart. Pairing poetry with wisdom, this is a story about what it means to live, love, and grow.” — Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
“Katharine Weber goes deep with the extraordinary STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY, a rich and compelling meditation on the question of what makes life worth living. Her characters are vividly, achingly real, including the tiny, furry one at the novel’s center. I kept thinking about all of them long after I’d read the final words of this beautiful book.” — Ann Packer, author of The Dive From Clausen’s Pier
“In Katharine Weber’s new novel she takes on one of the most challenging subjects we know-the question of how to face a life we never imagined. She does so with great subtlety, tenderness and intelligence, as well as the beautiful prose we expect from her.” — Roxana Robinson, author of This Is My Daughter
“Among the many brilliances of Katharine Weber’s new novel, is the whole idea of a ‘still life.’ Painters saw unnatural stillness as a contradiction in terms, yet containing a mysterious truth. Here, too, mysterious truth – a car accident, a wheelchair (another contradiction), paralysis, and honest and beautifully-drawn people, stopped in midpassage. To this still life comes the capuchin monkey, the service animal who attends the disconnections of the spine, the spirit, and of the species. STILL LIFE is life still-the theme of this original, remarkable book.” — Roger Rosenblatt, author of Kayak Morning
“STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY is radiantly tender and piercingly sad. Katharine Weber is a magician of a novelist, one who writes about loss and loneliness with such compassion and humor that we feel enchanted as we read.” — Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening and Florence Gordon