Monkey Dancing

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Daniel Glick is a journalist and single father, raising his son and daughter in Colorado. Following a painful divorce, their mother moved across the country with her new girlfriend, and then Glick’s older brother died of breast cancer. The trip with Kolya and Zoe, Glick candidly explains, came about because these “dual tragedies had propelled the three of us into orbit.” Nature is Glick’s spiritual core. When he sees that the children have only the “barest suburban inklings of the natural world,” he proposes that they all go see “this planet’s amazing animals and environments” before it is too late. The kids (as Glick refers to them) eventually realize that their dad is serious and that they can take Game Boys along with mosquito netting and asthma medicine. So, the trio departs for stop number one: Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

From there, they go to Bali, Borneo, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand; then Nepal, Switzerland, France, Holland; and finally back to the United States. Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth blends knowledge of environmental science, geography, natural history, cultural customs, and politics with family dynamics as Glick undertakes, in his own words, the “enormous responsibility of wrestling these two kids around the planet.”

Glick writes like the long-time environmental reporter that he is, with considerable detail about the challenges facing our planet. He also writes like a father trying to do right by his kids and like a man trying to find balance in his own life. Not incidentally, the family was traveling on Sept. 11, 2001, a day Glick says he saw the kids “deepening their understanding of the world, even as the world became less comprehensible all the time.” This account of their odyssey is likely to offer a similar experience—on many levels—to its readers.