“People’s lives are just gossip fodder,” Nora remarks to Javo early in the novel, after Javo has suspected her of being unfaithful with Francis, the director of the film on drug addiction. Monkey Grip thrives on “gossip fodder” and often reads like an expose of communal freaks whose lives are devoted to free love and drug involvement. Nora and her circle are involved in filmmaking, rock music, and the women’s movement. Javo is an actor who is seen working in cinema and on a Brecht play while the novel is in progress. His picture has appeared in Cinema Papers, the major trade publication for Australian filmmakers.
The characters of Monkey Grip are almost entirely ego-involved, self-destructive, and hurtful. Half of them are serious drug addicts, stumbling through the narrative with dilated pupils. Javo, for example, steals from Nora and Rita, who are kind enough to provide him with bed and board, love and care. The rest of the characters are equally aimless, as is the narrative itself. One primary interest of this novel, therefore, would seem to be sociological, outlining the behavior of the rock-punk counterculture, latterday hippies and freaks, erstwhile radicals who have lost the idealism and sense of purpose of their predecessors of the 1960’s.
The novel is written in the first person, and Nora, the narrator, takes much for granted. She is a feeling, emotional character who does not understand her own motivation. She is addicted to love, or lust, whichever is convenient in...
(The entire section is 630 words.)