Kin Platt Claire M. Dyson - Essay

Claire M. Dyson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Fifteen year old Eddie [protagonist of The Ape Inside Me] is a "scrapper" often involved in violent clashes which, he insists, are encouraged by the "ape" inside him. Eddie calls the ape "Kong" and conveniently blames him when things get out of hand. Interestingly, most of the trouble encountered has not been initiated by Eddie (or Kong); it is simply a reaction to injustice, whether it be visited upon himself or upon others….

The book covers a brief period in Eddie's life, yet we become fully aware of the circumstances of his home environment, his school, and the socio-economic climate of the community. The characters are well drawn; painfully poignant is that of Eddie's mother whose desperation in trying to retain her housemate suggests a pitiable lack of self-esteem.

A first person narrative is difficult but Kin Platt's character is wholly believable, and because he is an adolescent wrestling with the onset of maturity, the tiresome self-analysis which attends the I/Me tomes of the adult genre is absent here. The concluding chapter is unashamedly idealistic, so hold the moment close!… It's a singular joy to imagine just once "all things bright and beautiful" working together.

Claire M. Dyson, in her review of "The Ape Inside Me," in Best Sellers (copyright © 1980 Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation), Vol. 39, No. 11, February, 1980, p. 410.