Thursday, July 06, 2006

Book Review: Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick

I just finished reading Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick. It's a great read for a lot of great reasons.

First, it's a great personal journey beyond grief. Daniel Glick had just been through a gut-wrenching divorce and then he lost his older brother, whom he admired but with whom he had not been much in contact, to cancer. The trip was cathartac and healing.

Second, it's a great family adventure. Daniel is a single dad and had just started to get used to the idea when he took his young daughter and just-teen son on a journey to strange and dangerous places. What a bonding experience.

Third, it was a learning experience. Daniel Glick is a world class journalist and he takes us on a trip to some of the most endangered habitats in the world. You meet the species and the people who live with them and endanger them.

Although the book can be whiney and preachy in places, it can also be wide-eyed and wonderful in others. It shares a passion for discovery and life, and opens the author's heart to the reader where you are free to explore to understand the man and the father and the human being who is trying to rediscover himself within a world beset by so much trouble -- of our own making and beyond our own control.

If I have a real complaint about the book, it's that it lacks pictures. This author has been around the world -- to exciting places -- and there are few pictures to show for it. The ones that are there are small and extremely muddy (fifth-generation copier muddy), and they focus on the author and his kids, so you see much less of them in the context of their locales, which is what their story is about. At one point early in the story, I had to go to the Internet to find pictures about Daintree National Park in Australia. His descriptions were terrific, but I desperately wanted to see where he had been! I hope if Mr. Glick ever republishes the book that he will consider lots more pictures -- bigger pictures, wider panoramas, and some color! Oh, and please leave the mud back in Cambodia!

The version I read was paperback -- maybe there was a better photo selection in a hardcover version?

I like adventure stories so I naturally gravitate to this kind of book. I was captivated by the tales told, the risks taken, the lessons learned, the journey accomplished, the growth achieved, and the life restored. I think you will, too, whether or not you like adventure stories.