This was the book I was reading and am now finished. It’s by self-styled English bad-boy writer, Will Self and is about how a guy wakes up one day and chimpanzees and humans have switched places.
All except for the main character, simon dykes, who is a painter. When he looks at himself he sees human, but when the rest of society look at him (they’re all chimps and completely take the role of humanity — eg. the pope is a chimp) they see a chimp who has is having a psychotic episode. And of course, he is a bit freaked out with all these monkeys everywhere, trying to touch him.
And all the behavioural traits of chimps are part of this society so if a lesser chimp is dissing you even just a bit, it’s completely normal to give them a good belting. So they’re always smacking simon around and he’s a bit traumatised by it.
The change doesn’t happen until about a quarter of the way through, and without giving away the ending, it seems balanced really well between, ‘This poor guy has been thrown into some crazy monkey universe’ and ‘hmm, maybe he really did have some kind of psychosis’.
Here is an article with bad-boy Will Self with a little about the book. It says it’s in a Jonathan Swift vein of satire and I suppose it is. There were a few things about humanity brought out by it.
What I liked about it was how it blended what we know of how chimp ‘society’ works (like grooming, drumming on things) and everyday human stuff that we know, like hierarchy in the workplace.
Sex is a big part of it. Chimps and humans go about it in very different ways. They’re fucking all the time.
I found this little bit following particularly funny. The context is: Sarah, (simon’s girlfriend) distraught with his breakdown, visited her family group for a few days and is about to catch a train back to London. In the chimp world there’s no such thing as incest and it’s actually considered abuse if you’re not fucking your kids.
“No, Peter, if I can’t have you, or Simon, I don’t think I’ll be mating anyone else for the rest of this oestrus. And certainly not a chimp whose courtship display consists of beating himself around the head with a copy of PC User.”
Today’s Ace Mate! all-australian link for the day is this fotographic collection of letterboxes.