“Um...so what exactly is a Cheese Monkey?”
Good question. But strictly off-limits. We can tell you that The Cheese Monkeys is a witty and effervescent coming-of-age novel about headless waterfowl, fake plastic babies, and the basic tenets of graphic design.
It’s 1957, long before computers have replaced the trained eye and skillful hand. Our narrator at State U is determined to major in Art, and after several risible false starts, he ends up by accident in a new class called “Introduction to Graphic Design.” Art 127 is taught by the enigmatic Winter Sorbeck, professor and guru (think Gary Cooper crossed with Darth Vader)—equal parts genius, seducer, and sadist. Sorbeck is a bitter yet fascinating man whose assignments hurl his charges through a gauntlet of humiliation and heartache, shame and triumph, ego-bashing and enlightenment. Along the way, friendships are made and undone, jealousies simmer, the sexual tango weaves and dips.
As readers, we too are under Sorbeck’s bizarre spell, spurred on by his demand: “Show me something I’ve never seen before and will never be able to forget-if you can do that, you can do anything.” By the end of The Cheese Monkeys, the members of Art 127 will never see the world the same way again. And, thanks to Chip Kidd’s insights into the secrets of graphic design, neither will you.
From People Who Liked It
"It is rare for a book to produce uncontrollable laughter as loud as this one did. The narrator is at art college in the 1950s, and after failing to get the courses he wants, finds himself attending 'Introduction to Graphic Design,' taught by the inspiring, sadistic, and compelling Professor Winter Sorbeck. Through humiliation and excess he shows his naive young charges how to see the world through new eyes. This is a brilliantly entertaining debut -- intelligent, pitch-perfect, and enlightening."
-- The Times (London)
This story about growing up and finding your calling is funny and, almost despite itself, moving. Here the big ideas -- about growing, working, loving -- are all inside."
-- New York Times Book Review
An irresistible comic voice that sounds so modern, and so right, even as it re-creates the undergraduate life of the late 1950s."
-- Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Channeling Holden Caulfield via David Sedaris, Kidd produces a stellar debut."
-- Publishers Weekly
-- Miami Herald
Not only is [The Cheese Monkeys] sharp and funny, it's also one of the year's most original American novels."
-- Toronto Globe and Mail From People Who Didn't
"Retro kitsch. Thoroughly sophomoric."
-- Entertainment Weekly
"The first section veers dangerously towards the predictable. Kidd has a way to go before his literary skills equal his artistic genius."
-- Time Out (New York)