Saturday, September 5, 2009
Book Review: North American Primates
North American Primates by Shane Durgee
Red Weaver books 211 pages
In the interest of being truthful with my blog readers I should note that Shane Durgee is an old friend. He also did the amazing painting on the cover of my recently released short story collection. I hope he will do more covers for me in the future. In the region where Shane grew up his amazing talent is well known. As painter, writer, and vocalist for several hardcore and post hardcore bands that were practically a farm team for the hardcore legends Earth Crisis. NAP is the latest novel to be released by hardcore “kids” that also includes Duncan Barlow(Endpoint/ Guilt) and well myself.
Shane's atypical melodic vocals evoked an emotional edge that many bands in the genre ignored for screams and growls. That is not to say that the music of early Durgee fronted bands didn't rip the records of oversight and Framework still raged. I was very excited when this book arrived in my mailbox because I wanted to see Shane's voice extend itself over 200 pages and tell me a story.
North American Primates will appeal most to the crowd of true believers who reject the notion that everything in our world can be explained by science. The coasties, no not the coast guard but the people who stay up late into the night to listen to Coast to Coast AM. It is the story of Clay Sturgeon a central New York misfit who does quite fit in with his community. Clay's life is turned upside down during a camping trip when he encounters what he believes is bigfoot.
We join Clay on journey to discover the secret of the man in the woods and along the way we discover not just about the creature but the people and motivations of those who are seeking to find it. From the skeptical scientists to Clay's new age hippie lover. One of the strengths of the narrative is the unique and brutally honest voice Durgee has given Clay in the first person narrative. Clay is a deeply flawed and lost hero who is seeking a deeper truth not just a primate living in the north woods.
While the work of Daniel Quinn(Ishmael) is an obvious influence, Durgee includes quotes and a reference within the story. This book doesn't slap you in the face with a message. That is not to say that their isn't a message, several infact just woven into the narrative with subtle strokes. Subtle suggestions of animal rights, and less subtle is the idea of open minded-ness towards the unexplained. For me North American primates told me a fun story and reminded me at the same time that I am not anymore special and unique to this planet as any other creature. Is he real or in our imagination? That doesn't matter monsters effect us either way.
This was a passion project for Durgee who clearly researched bigfoot and culture that has grown out of a believe in the creature. I think you'll enjoy the book and I hope Shane is already at work on his follow-up. I'll be first in line.
For more details and to read the first chapter go to the Red Weaver site: