Mr. Thundermug

Cornelius Medvei, Author . HarperCollins $14.95 (105p) ISBN 978-0-06-114612-1

This curious, slender debut—a "case history" complete with photographs—documents the appearance in a London-like city of Mr. Thundermug, a baboon who speaks perfect English, squats in a condemned apartment building with his wife and two children, and survives on foraged cockroaches and melon. The baboon's origins are unknown, but the unnamed narrator, a journalist, suggests that Mr. Thundermug may be linked to the mysteriously vanished zoologist, Dr. Alphonsus Rotz, whose immersion fieldwork with a baboon colony had led him to theorize, suggestively, about cross-breeding between humans and baboons. Mr. Thundermug is smart and articulate, but he can't read the eviction notices from the Housing Department. He sends his children to school and befriends their teacher, Miss Angela Young, who teaches him to read and write. After being harassed by the Housing Department, Mr. Thundermug is arrested for, among other things, cruelty to animals (his children sleep in the bathtub). He is vindicated, but his wife and children (none of whom can speak a human language) fare less well. Britisher Medvei offers a gently affecting and often funny allegory of the outsider, but his awkward framing of the "facts" gives the story a distance that diminishes its impact. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
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Ebook - 112 pages - 978-0-06-204734-2
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