Going ape over Ape House

Cover image of "Ape House"I’ve just finished reading Sara Gruen’s latest offering Ape House. Her first book Water for Elephants is one of my all time favourites, so I was really looking forward to what she came up with next. I even selflessly sacrificed working on an assignment so I could get through it in 2 days. Oh the hardship.

I had assumed from the title it may be a kind of sequel or spin-off from her circus-inspired first novel, but as I devoured the first chapter, then the next…and the one after that…it became apparent Sara Gruen had invented something entirely brand new and original. While her familiar style of funny, intelligent and observant writing continues to shine through, the story explores a very different kind of circus – the clown antics of today’s reality TV and the people (and animals) who are exploited in the name of entertainment.

I loved this book.  Please read it so I have someone to talk about it with!

I have a great respect for authors who risk their place on the bestseller list by dishing up something different and surprising with each book.  What serial authors do you appreciate the most? Those you can rely on to deliver a winning formula every time, like Jodi Picoult or John Grisham? Or those who never do the same thing twice?

13 thoughts on “Going ape over Ape House

  1. Laraine 28 October 2010 / 10:06 am

    I have a tendency to avoid best-selling authors for adults. Their books are usually badly written. I waded through The Da Vinci Code (sheer torture) only because it was given to us for Christmas and I didn’t want to risk not being able to answer any questions the givers might have asked.

    I remember my husband complaining that a character in a Jack Higgins novel cast off his boat’s mooring before starting the engine, and then that the plane used by the “goodies” was sabotaged by the villains in a way that should have been picked up in the pilot’s preflight check. I wasn’t sympathetic. I told him, “That’s what you get for reading best-sellers.” But it wasn’t Brown’s errors that irritated me; it was his excruciating lack of writing skills. Is Grisham’s writing as bad as Dan Brown’s?

  2. Laraine 28 October 2010 / 10:08 am

    Sorry. I had just been looking at a critical comment of a Grisham novel. I meant to type Is Gruen’s writing as bad as Dan Brown’s?

    • onederccl 29 October 2010 / 4:26 pm

      Gruen’s writing is NOTHING like Dan Brown’s (although admittedly I have never actually read any of his books). If you appreciate well-written fiction, I highly recommend Gruen.

  3. sweet pea 28 October 2010 / 11:19 am

    Thanks for the heads-up on the new Sara Gruen – hold has now been placed!

    I am a reader of all things, good and bad and occasionally ugly. I’m getting better at stopping with things that I am not enjoying, instead of “started it, must finish it”.

    I like serial authors & their formula stories, it’s familiar, it’s comfortable, it’s pick-up put-down, no hassles. I enjoy Dan Brown for this very reason. The writing may not be top notch, but if I wanted literary writing, then I wouldn’t choose Dan Brown as an example.

    But I really do appreciate authors who do go out on a limb and try something new at the risk of their bestseller spot. I recently read a Jodi Picoult short story in “Stories” (ed by Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio) and it was deliciously different from her bestsellers. I would like to more of her writing like this.

    To each their own, if you don’t like an author, then don’t read them. Easy peasy.

  4. Michael A 29 October 2010 / 7:58 am

    I have a soft spot for John Irving but he does seem to tell the same story with most of his novels. In the early days (World According to garp, Hotel new Hampshire) he was fresh and not-put-downable but he seems to have got stuck since then. Thre must be a fine line between establishing a recognisable style and being too predictable. With Irving I now wait for the next novel to hit the library (free issue) shelves rather than feel the need to purchase on first release.

    • Joyciescotland 15 November 2010 / 9:05 pm

      Bears and dwarves, dwarves and bears, wrestling, bears and dwarves…ad nauseum..loved him back in the day but the bear, dwarf and wrestling days are over for me.

  5. sweet pea 29 October 2010 / 8:36 am

    Just wanted to let you know that my book group now has The Ape House lined up for one of our 2011 reads based on your recommendation – which amounted to “please read it so I have someone to talk to about it” – which was my recent recommendation to others about Justin Cronin’s The Passage (and now that other folks have read it I *finally* have someone to talk to about it!). So many thanks for the plug for Gruen’s book Oneder.

  6. sweet pea 29 October 2010 / 8:37 am

    Just wanted to let you know that my book group has The Ape House lined up for one of our 2011 reads based on your recommendation – which amounted to “please read it so I have someone to talk to about it” – which was my recent recommendation to others about Justin Cronin’s The Passage (and now that other folks have read it I *finally* have someone to talk to about it!). So many thanks for the plug for Gruen’s book Oneder.

  7. Kathy 29 October 2010 / 10:21 am

    Great to hear a good review of Gruen’s new book, as I’ve seen a couple of average ones. I haven’t read it yet- I’ve been a bit reluctant to as ‘Water for elephants’ is one of my favourite books and I was afraid this may not live up to it. Now I will get my hands on a copy ASAP!

    • onederccl 29 October 2010 / 4:33 pm

      Oh goodness now I feel a bit nervous! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…I would feel very bad indeed if if it was a disappoinment for you! Book recommendations should always come with the warning: “This is one reader’s opinion! Opinions may vary as good reads are subjective!”

  8. SHUG 11 November 2010 / 3:03 pm

    I thought it wasn’t a patch on Water for Elephants. The author seemed unable to make her mind up about the tone. It starts serious but gets almost comedic towards the end.

    • Joycee 15 November 2010 / 10:39 am

      I agree Shug, the first hundred pages were interesting then it all fell apart.Cardboard and saccharin!
      For a hardcore chimp read William Boyd’s prize winning Brazzaville Beach,or even more disturbing God’s grace by Bernard Malamud

      • keenan.j 16 November 2010 / 11:05 am

        Hardcore chimp – is that a new genre?

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