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Cheese Monkeys

2.3 (2672)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Cheese Monkeys.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Chip Kidd(Author)

    Book details

This hilarious coming-of-age novel can only be described as a portrait of the designer as a young man. After two semesters under the aegis of the enigmatic professor/guru Winter Sorbeck, the world will never look the same.
--This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.

A sharp, fast-paced, and well-packaged academic satire, along the lines of James Hyne's The Lecturer's Tale (LJ 12/00), this is a coming-of-age story from the point of view of the paying victim (a.k.a. the student). A na?ve fellow finds himself in the hallowed, cinderblock halls of his state art school in the 1950s where, try as he might, he can't quite capture in pencil the essence of a decapitated waterfowl, an old shoe, and a detumescent pomegranate. No wonder he becomes enthralled by the charms of one Himillsy Dodd, a free spirit and the only other enrollee in the still-life course who seems to know the meaning of "detumescent." The following semester, the duo find themselves in Art 127: Introduction to Commercial Art, and the novel shifts typeface and turns into a syllabus for what might be the ultimate graphic design class. Winter Sorbeck challenges his students and himself perhaps beyond what today's law allows, but the results are all recorded in indelible ink on their Permanent Academic Records, though the novel's painful conclusion does find Sorbeck out job hunting. Kidd is an award-winning graphic artist responsible for the memorable book jackets for such titles as Jurassic Park and Love in the Time of Cholera. That should assure his first novel a healthy amount of publicity with attendant demand. For all larger public libraries and for art schools everywhere. Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition. Kidd is a pioneer in book cover art, but this novel marks his first attempt to write the words between his magnificent covers. It tells the story of one boy's discovery of graphic design in college and his talented and cruel professor. The "novel in two semesters" follows our narrator through his first year at the ubiquitous "State U." In the first semester, he meets Himillsy Dodd, a precociously brilliant fellow art major with a great disdain for art, and takes "Introduction to Drawing," which includes such inane exercises as drawing a still life of a large, brown, and dead bird named Renaldo. Then they take graphic design with the enigmatic William Sorbeck, and life changes forever. Sorbeck shines in three dimensions on the page, a living representation of the larger-than-life professor that luckier college students have a chance to know. This is a fascinating, funny, and wonderfully written novel of graphic design that manages to deepen the reader's appreciation for the artistry and wonder of design without a single drawing. John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.

4.5 (8948)
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*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Formats for this Ebook

Required Software Any PDF Reader, Apple Preview
Supported Devices Windows PC/PocketPC, Mac OS, Linux OS, Apple iPhone/iPod Touch.
# of Devices Unlimited
Flowing Text / Pages Pages
Printable? Yes

Book details

  • PDF | 320 pages
  • Chip Kidd(Author)
  • SCRIBNER (SIMO); New Ed edition (2003)
  • English
  • 7
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Thomas L. Bonnett on December 7, 2016

    Boy, did I dislike this book. And the purpose of this review isn't to mercilessly slam the author and his work in Internet troll fashion. It's mainly to hopefully expunge this book from my psyche once and for all so that I can move on with my life and prevent others from making the same mistake I made, which is devoting even "this much" of your life to reading "The Cheese Monkeys."My problem with "The Cheese Monkeys" is threefold. Let's start with the female protagonist.Okay, we get it: She's kooky. She drinks, she smokes, she has no redeeming qualities whatsoever that we can see. She's the cliche rebel without a cause all aspiring novelists write into the first drafts of their first novels which mercifully never see the light of day. So what's her arc? Do we discover vulnerabilities? Does she warm at all to the affections of the male protagonist? Does she ever apologize for being a truly revolting human being? No. She's a dramatic a-hole in acts one, two, and three. If I'm supposed to care about her then the author failed miserably in his mission.Same holds true for the male protagonist. Nice enough kid. Falls head over heels for the kooky girl. Face it, we've all done it. Does he stand up to her for screwing him over at every turn? Does he come to his senses and realize that he could do better? No. The last page has him tearfully lamenting that she's been yanked from his life, presumably forever. He's the same lovestruck sap he was on page one and I found myself embarrassed for him, like a middle-age guy having one last look at his high school yearbook before quietly slipping it into the trash ashamed of the first love he's held as the ideal of womanhood since age sixteen.Finally, the premise of the book: Graphic design. Clearly the writer has an affinity for the craft. And clearly the publisher felt this was an interesting enough topic to let Chip Kidd go hog wild on the topic in novel form. So did I finish the book with even a sliver of the author's passion for graphic design? Not in the slightest. I closed the book with the same mild distaste for graphic design that I feel for performance art. Ah, I see you've smeared yourself in chocolate while ripping pages from the Betty Crocker Cookbook as a lament against colonialism. Clap...clap...clap...(glances at watch).I actually stopped reading the book around three-quarters of the way through but came back to it several months later and I still find myself ruing the day I picked up "The Cheese Monkeys" at a garage sale. Oh to get that time and brain space back. Spoiler alert: The final pages have the girl disappearing from the boy's life forever. She does so in the same annoying, dramatic fashion she exhibited at every turn throughout the book. The boy reacts as the same lovestruck fool he was on page one. As glad as I was to have the story end, I found myself wishing for an epilogue: The boy, twenty years later, ensconced in a trade, married to a non-cliche woman, a house in the 'burbs, a couple of kids in college pursuing the hard sciences. He gazes at his yellowed portfolio from graphic design class and shakes his head in embarrassment at the affinity he showed for a very, very unlikeable girl lo those many years ago. Portfolio in trash, lid in place, end...scene.No offense to Mr. Kidd, but stick to the craft you know best and leave the novels to novelists.

  • By Josh Gaines on October 25, 2012

    I just finished, though it took me far too long to get through, The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd, a graphic-designer-turned-writer who gained a good deal of attention for this, his debut novel.I was initially drawn to the book when browsing a used bookstore in Denver, CO, picked it up because of it's odd title and cool cover art/layout, and ended up buying it on a whim. This was probably 3-4 years ago, and I finally decided to crack it open.I can say that Chip Kidd is a very good graphic artist, and has a good eye for layout, fonts, etc. Flip through the opening pages of this book and you'll see what I mean. There's even a `secret' message on the book's outer spine that can only be seen when you bend the pages one way or the other, which is cool and the first book I've ever seen with this creative feature. His writing however... leaves a bit to be desired.It's funny that right smack on the front cover, the book is cutely described as "A Novel in Two Semesters," and believe it or not, I pretty much hated the book until halfway, right at the `Second Semester' section. Let me back up. The story follows a young man (who remains nameless throughout most of the tale) starting college in the 1960's, who ends up choosing an art degree because he essentially isn't really interested in anything else. But he's not an artist either, just an apathetic, wishy-washy kid.First of all, it is completely pointless that the book is set in 1960, because there is no period-related integration whatsoever. It could have taken place in 2011 and been the same book, with exception of a few minor references to apparel or home-decor. It's not that big of a deal, but I feel like the author just completely forgot that he needed to remind his readers of their surroundings. So what's the point?Now, back to the fact that I hated the first half. I'm the sort of reader who will usually chug through a book even if I don't care for it much, because it just bothers me to have something on my shelf that I've started and haven't finished. There's only been a handful of books that I gladly closed the covers on forever and will never reopen again, for they were garbage. Anyway. I disliked this one in particular for so long because, while it was peppered with whimsical humor and put a magnifying glass up to the pretentious absurdity of art school, the characters were extremely flat and lifeless. Their situation brought any small amount of interest to the story, but I could've cared less about them. Also, the main Drawing teacher in the first semester is bat-crap crazy, and not in the way that's funny and ha-ha to read, but in the way that's like OH MY GOSH SHUT UP IF I WAS IN YOUR CLASS IN REAL LIFE I WOULD HAVE MURDERED YOU BY THIS JUNCTURE.But then, a light (kinda). In the second semester, the three main characters (Mr. Nameless, a country-bumpkin girl who's cute and innocent and another wild-child girl who gives not an eff about anything, including school) are put into the last open art class, Graphic Design 101 (remember our author's previous occupation?). The reason the book gets interesting here is that their Graphic Design teacher, Winter Sorbeck, is an artistic genius, but also an unmovable prick. He struts around his classroom smoking a pipe, picking on students at random and asking them impossibly strange and unrelated questions, then tears them down one side and up the other when they can't answer him satisfactorily. BUT, he ends up being the only well-thought-out character in the whole book!! He's got depth and consistency and even though he's a prick to his students, he is so for a reason and ends up stretching their minds to be more creative and think around corners, to the point that I found his methods and lectures inspiring.So. Even though I enjoyed this character once he was on the scene, I think it's poor form to write a book that is so radically different from one half to the other, and like I said, none of the other characters have any memorable qualities, so I feel like that's a substantial weakness. I'm tempted to think that the inspiration for the book went like this: Chip Kidd, judging by his age was probably born in the 60's, went to art school, ended up in graphic design, had two teachers exactly like this, both the annoying one and the crazy but clever one, got to a point in his career where people noticed him and decided to write a so-so book about his experience, shrouded in poorly written characters, and ended up getting some attention for it. Perhaps that's unfair to him, or completely inaccurate, but it kinda fits. It's just not that great of a book, and I really don't recommend it.I picture Chip in a Los Angeles studio a few weeks after this book was published, wearing loafers and an argyle sweater, sipping a martini and surrounded by his uppity artist friends, all chippering away at how clever his book was, god, what a way with words he had, and oh, the humor, to die for. Pwa-ha, tee-hee, ho-tee-da, pa-heh, la-ti-de-da-do. oh. ah. ooh. eh.Just the sort of publishing party you'd like to be at.

  • By David M. Chess on November 5, 2001

    Someone needs to do a study of Needlessly Apocalyptic Endings in Modern Fiction. Most of this book is great fun; hip and funny, and also a Work of Ideas, all about art and love and design and integrity and stuff. Then (somewhere around the Frat Party scene) Kidd seems to have realized it was about time for the ending, and reached for the explosives.The last two chapters seem to be mostly a hallucinatory dream induced by lack of sleep (the protagonist's, that is, although I could believe it of Kidd also). Which is very nice and modern and all, but I'd rather know what *happened*. Unless I'm overly dense, Kidd is violating his own quite plausible design rule: when designing an object of whatever kind, it's more important that it accomplish the purpose than that it look clever.But anyway! It's a good book, and do read it. It won't take all that long; it's a pretty wild and energetic ride. And maybe the ending that was silly and opaque to me will be lucid and relevatory to you. You Never Know.

  • By Andrew B. Leadford on December 5, 2013

    Fantastic. Ne,w original, creative, keeps you going yet at the same time is a light enough read that you can enjoy it while camping/in the car/on the bus to and from wherever you're going.Kidd's writing is beautiful. It flows in such a natural current, a hypnotic joining of letters and punctuation that just saying the sentences out loud turns novel to poetry.Great characters, interesting plot, and something excitingly new and inventive in a world that is leaning towards rehashing the same plot over and over and over.

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