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Still Life with Monkey

Still Life with Monkey

Katharine Weber

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287-page paperback / 5.5" x 8.5" / ISBN 9781589881297 / Publication Date: 8/21/2018

"Weber’s prose is precise, revealing rather than evocative; she seems to be aiming not to show her characters in their best light but rather to illuminate them from all angles, even the least flattering . . . Still Life With Monkey is profoundly humane even while it’s asking the most difficult questions."—New York Times Book Review

"Katharine Weber’s Still Life With Monkey is a beautifully wrought paean of praise for the ordinary pleasures taken for granted by the able-bodied. In precise and often luminous prose, with intelligence and tenderness, Weber’s latest novel examines the question of what makes a life worth living."—Washington Post

"Stark and compelling . . . Rigorously unsentimental yet suffused with emotion: possibly the best work yet from an always stimulating writer."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Weber’s unsentimental and poignant examination of what does and does not make life worth living is a heartbreaking triumph."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Still Life with Monkey is a brilliantly crafted novel, brimming with heart.”—Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage


Duncan Wheeler is a successful architect who savors the quotidian pleasures in life until a car accident leaves him severely paralyzed and haunted by the death of his young assistant. Now, Duncan isn’t sure what there is left to live for, when every day has become “a broken series of unsuccessful gestures.”

Duncan and his wife, Laura, find themselves in conflict as Duncan’s will to live falters. Laura grows desperate to help him. An art conservator who has her own relationship to the repair of broken things, Laura brings home a highly trained helper monkey—a tufted capuchin named Ottoline—to assist Duncan with basic tasks. Duncan and Laura fall for this sweet, comical, Nutella-gobbling little creature, and Duncan’s life appears to become more tolerable, fuller, and funnier. Yet the question persists: Is it enough?

Katharine Weber is a masterful observer of humanity, and Still Life with Monkey, full of tenderness and melancholy, explores the conflict between the will to live and the desire to die.

“Weber's sixth novel is a nuanced investigation of what is left when all of the ways one identifies oneself are wiped out in an instant . . . Beautiful, emotionally resonant storytelling."—Booklist 

The 'still life' in Katharine Weber’s new novel is Duncan Wheeler, a 37-year-old successful Connecticut-based architect who receives life’s worst surprise when a car crash leaves him mostly paralyzed with a C6 spinal cord injury . . .  Weber expertly weaves Duncan’s internal conflict throughout the novel, constantly making the reader wonder if he will find the strength to continue living in his new circumstances and carry on with a will to make new legacies. Most importantly, Still Life with Monkey begs the question, 'What would I do in this situation?' It’s a question that lingers long after the book ends."BookPage

For Weber fans, this new novel is a cause for celebration and is likely to win her many more admirers.”—Amazon's Omnivoracious blog

“A rich and compelling meditation on the question of what makes life worth living. Her characters are vividly, achingly real, including the tiny, furry one at the novel’s center.”—Ann Packer, author of The Dive From Clausen’s Pier

“In Katharine Weber’s new novel she takes on one of the most challenging subjects we know—the question of how to face a life we never imagined. She does so with great subtlety, tenderness and intelligence, as well as the beautiful prose we expect from her.”—Roxana Robinson, author of This Is My Daughter

Still Life with Monkey is radiantly tender and piercingly sad. Katharine Weber is a magician of a novelist, one who writes about loss and loneliness with such compassion and humor that we feel enchanted as we read.”—Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening and Florence Gordon

Also available as an ebook:

Reading Group Guide to Still Life with Monkey

Katharine Weber
 is the author of five acclaimed novels―True ConfectionsTriangleThe Little WomenThe Music Lesson, and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear―and a memoir, The Memory Of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of InfidelitiesObjects in MirrorThe Music Lesson, and The Little Women were all named Notable Books by The New York Times Book Review; two of her novels were long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and The Music Lesson has been published in twelve languages. Katharine holds the Thomas Chair in creative writing at Kenyon College.

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Monkey College


Helping Hands is the nonprofit organization that has since 1979 helped adults with spinal cord injuries and other mobility impairments to live more independent and engaged lives by providing, free of charge, highly trained capuchin monkeys to help with daily tasks of living. The only organization of its kind, Helping Hands raises and trains these special service animals in “Monkey College” for several years before carefully matching them with appropriate recipients across the country. Helping Hands provides active support and care for the duration of each placement at no cost to recipients. These capuchin monkey helpers change lives with the gift of greater independence, companionship, and hope.  541 Cambridge Street Boston, MA 02134 

617-787-4419 |

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