Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cheeta The Chimp's Memoir Contends For Booker Prize

me cheetaThe purported autobiography of a movie-star chimpanzee is among the contenders for Britain's most prestigious literary award.

"Me Cheeta" is one of 13 novels on the Booker Prize long list. Originally published anonymously, James Lever's book claims to tell the life story of the chimp who gained 1930s Hollywood stardom in "Tarzan" movies.

Other contenders announced Tuesday are former Booker winners A.S. Byatt and J.M. Coetzee, as well as Adam Foulds, Sarah Hall, Samantha Harvey, Hilary Mantel, Simon Mawer, Ed O'Loughlin, James Scudamore, Sarah Waters, William Trevor and Colm Toibin.

The short list will be announced Sept. 8 and the winner of the $82,000 prize on Oct. 6.

Full story here.

1 comment:

buddy66 said...


I never got along with the chimps
—they were always biting me.
— Maureen O'Sullivan

It seems like a good life:
fussed-over house pet and companion
to the boy, protected by
the long knife and great strength
of The Lord of The Jungle,
he is loved, allowed almost any excess,
free to come and go as he pleases.

First to discover, his passion
is disorder. Screaming at
outsiders he trashes their tents,
steals what's not nailed down,
destroys what can't be carried.
When threatened he flees
to the safety of Tarzan's arms.

Un-gawa, Cheeta!
Cheeta, Un-gawa!
Means GO! Means NOW!
Means HURRY! Means HELP!
Means, finally, THINK!

Ah, the good life slides away like
a crocodile. Never to understand,
out of his head with frustration,
he is reduced to howling rages
and manic flights, mouthing the terror
of the Word, fucking up the rescue,
the liberating, delivered message.

He is always a dark parody of Tarzan,
a beastly thing. Black against
the bright sky of that shining body
he clings, riding the huge swells
of an elephant tide, stunned witness
to a world in which he is both
fevered supplicant and mere survivor.