Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey

Who doesn’t think of bone-wielding monkey men when they hear the opening notes of Richard Strauss’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra?
— from internet


“Or maybe what I had seen was a long, strange, realistic dream.”

When this story — unforgettable beyond any risk of memory lapses that beset the women in it with whom the eponymous monkey falls in love — becomes as famous as this story is likely to do, most of its reading enthusiasts may well become hung up on the Bruckner references, his seventh symphony in particular being a nod toward the elderly monkey’s maximum limit of loving seven human women about whom it tells the narrator in the hot springs hotel. Or what about Bruckner’s Symphonies numbered 0 and 00 as symbols of loss of personal items as well as the women’s memory loss of their own names?…. Well, if these readers do concentrate on Bruckner, they must also remember that Richard Strauss is explicitly mentioned at least once in the text. As is a ‘coffee lounge’ where the narrator eventually meets perforce a woman who may have brought the total to eight, my own favourite Bruckner symphony.
A truly wonderful story to have a long hot soak in, one that actually somehow makes you disarmingly believe, with exquisite naivety, in the talking monkey already hiding within it. And as a result of its publication, it is possible that several more women, once they have read it, will understand why they lost, say, their driving licence on the same day that they forgot their own name. Haydn is likely to have enough numbered symphonies to cope, I trust.

From my review of First Person Singular here:


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