Duncan Wheeler is a successful architect who savors the quotidian pleasures in life until a car accident leaves him severely paralyzed and haunted by the death of his young assistant. Now, Duncan isn’t sure what there is left to live for.
Weber expertly weaves Duncan’s internal conflict throughout the novel, constantly making the reader wonder if he will find the strength to continue living in his new circumstances and carry on with a will to make new legacies. Most importantly, Still Life with Monkey begs the question, 'What would I do in this situation?' It’s a question that lingers long after the book ends.
...a nuanced investigation of what is left when all of the ways one identifies oneself are wiped out in an instant ... the picture that emerges is devastating in its clarity ... Beautiful, emotionally resonant storytelling.
...a beautifully wrought paean of praise for the ordinary pleasures taken for granted by the able-bodied. In precise and often luminous prose, with intelligence and tenderness, Weber’s latest novel examines the question of what makes a life worth living ... I love books in which I learn things. Along with the usual pleasures of a story with distinct and memorable characters, I learned from Still Life With Monkey a few of the techniques used in art restoration. I learned about a rare form of Song dynasty pottery known as Ru ware. I learned something of the social lives of capuchin monkeys ... This excellent novel is, however, all but spoiled by its ending. I counted on the imagination and intelligence shown in the rest of the book to carry through. Instead, we’re given the same appalling conclusion we see so often in tales of disability.