The Evolution Man or How I Ate My Father

Roy Lewis, Author Pantheon Books $18 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42727-8
This wacky, tongue-in-cheek account of human evolution as exemplified by one family of cave dwellers calls to mind TV's The Flintstones , but wordplay and intellectual satire mix with outrageous anachronisms to lift it well above a cartoon depiction. Originally published in England in 1960, the novel is set in prehistoric East Africa, where Father (``Woman's place is in the cave'') extends the use of fire and champions technological progress, despite the opposition of Uncle Vanya, who believes that ape-men and ape-women should remain innocent children of nature. The clan includes Mother, proud homemaker in their new cave (``At last the girls will get a bit of privacy''); Uncle Ian, who speaks with a Scottish lilt and travels to China (``Go north, young man''); and Ernest, the inquisitive ape-boy narrator who mates with coy, romantic Griselda. An accidental patricide, followed by a dash of cannibalism, climax this inspired, delirious hymn to the human animal's noble climb from hominid savagery to murderous civilization. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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