BY SEAN CLARK
JABBIC is back! I know we said it’d be back for the summer …but we sort of forgot. To make up for it, we’re doing a special extravaganza edition. We got eleven of our contributors to take a look at the cover of Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and write us a summary of what it might be about. We’ve mixed the real book’s blurb in with them below. See if you can guess which is real, or just pick the one you think should be the book’s plot.
1. When Samantha’s ailing mother is forced to move in with her daughter, she comes with some unusual baggage: her long-time helper monkey and Samantha’s old childhood friend, Alonzo. For Samantha, it’s a strange reunion, one that calls into question her memories of her mother, her one-time friend, and her unbelievable early years. It’s a situation that will test Samantha’s ability to help anyone at all–especially herself. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is a sad, funny look at family (and a monkey) through time.
2. When six-year old Hannah’s father went away on a business trip, she didn’t expect him to return with “monkey business.” A 1960’s free-spirited animal exchange program filled her San Francisco neighborhood with lions, tigers, and yes–monkeys. Her new brother Alphonse might be the feature of every playground but Hannah is going to show this damn dirty ape that America is no zoo. Or is it?
3. Alexandra Fuller imagines the impossible with delightful fancy in her new novel, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Rebecca had a childhood most would kill for, growing up in the lush rolling hills of a wealthy North Carolina family, attending all the right schools, and meeting all the right people. When her father, an importer of exotic animals, introduces her to the chimpanzee Allison, Rebecca knows she has found a best friend for life…or so it seems. Years later, as a socialite living in Manhattan’s upper east side, Rebecca spies a very familiar-looking primate in the Bronx zoo while taking her daughter for a play date, and suddenly a rush of repressed memories come flooding back, but none answer the question, whatever happened to Allison? Fuller’s masterpiece takes the reader on a boozy journey through half-remembered meadows of regret, exploring the topical themes of paternity, bestiality, genetic engineering, and neo-Darwinism as they have never been probed before.
4. Dr. Samantha Calloway is a scientist who studies memory loss in the elderly and patients with certain brain injuries. Samantha also has some memories of her own she’d like to forget, starting with her parents and the farm she was raised on and a pet chimpanzee named Charney. Somehow she cannot remember what happened to Charney, and what she does remember bothers her, and Samantha is driven to drink. The more she drinks, the more vivid her memories of Charney become, rich, fantastical snippets showcasing his intelligence, creativity, and human-ness. After awhile she’s torn between the scientific quest to find a way to prevent memory loss and losing herself completely to a recollection built on questionable truths.
5. In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother’s childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father’s English childhood; and the darker, civil war- torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller’s mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, terrifying, exotic, and unselfconscious as Nicola herself.
6. It’s summer 1963, and the zookeeper’s daughter, Audrey, is turning three. An elaborate celebration, the biggest birthday party ever, has been in the works for months. The big day arrives, but is soon marred by a tragedy that forever changes the town of Midborrow. Now nearing 40, Audrey is haunted by vague memories of that day – what happened, and what does it have to do with the faded photograph of a baby chimp she found concealed in the family Bible?
7. From the New York Times best-selling author of Death Spares Not the Tiger & Gown Syndrome: One Woman’s Struggle, Alexandra Fuller’s latest historical thriller is set to take the literary world by storm. Set upon William Randolph Hearst’s palatial pleasure barge, The Oneida, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is a classic locked-room mystery of the highest order. Featuring a glittering cast with far less glamorous motives, the novel examines the lifestyle of 1920’s Hollywood high society and, in the process, exposes one of its darkest secrets. Who killed Thomas Ince?
8. How much can one girl learn from an ape? Olivia’s best friend since childhood was Kumba, a chimpanzee at the wildlife reserve in Zaire run by Olivia’s parents. Now, years later, Olivia returns to her parents former employ from London. She reconnects with her old friend, now an elderly chimp. Fuller’s poignant story or compassion and loyalty tugs at the heartstrings, and shows us there’s a deeper communication than language.
9. After an undercover assignment gets her hooked on a designer drug called Mneme, vice cop Melanie Starks finds herself haunted by vivid hallucinatory memories. Most disturbing is the giggling 6-year-old version of herself that keeps showing up—herself as she was before her childhood was ruined by a horrible crime that she has no memory of. When she gets assigned to a bizarre new case involving a carefree young girl who’s the spitting image of herself as a child, Melanie gets the feeling that the whole thing might be an elaborate Mneme trip, but that only makes it more important to get some answers.
10. What would happen if you bought your amnesiac daughter a drunken monkey? Alexandra Fuller explores themes of memory, nostalgia, and loss in her new memoir, a sequel to the wildly-popular Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. While grappling with issues of non-remembrance, Fuller fondly reflects on what she can recall about her South African childhood and her pet chimpanzee, Buster—a companion who helped her become the writer, and person, she is today.
11. Suzanne Robbins has spent her entire life – all 34 years of it – in Shreveport, Louisiana. Her five sisters have grown up, gone to college, married, and moved away. Meanwhile, Suzanne dreams away her days, spending most of her time in the garden behind her house. One night Suzanne looks out her window and is amazed to see a young girl and a lively chimp dancing together under the moonlight. Too timid to investigate, Suzanne stays hidden in her home. But night after night she sees the pair enjoying the garden she works hard to create during the day. Finally, Suzanne can’t take it anymore. She tiptoes her way out of the house and is swept up into a world that she can barely believe exists.
12. In 1974, Emily Brewster is forced to move to Tanzania to live with her paternal grandfather, Bruce, after both her parents are killed in a car accident. Her grandfather owns a coffee plantation at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The first weeks are tense between Emily and her grandfather; he has only seen her in pictures and has never enjoyed the company of children. Emily is afraid of his rough hands and the wild look of his beard. One day he takes her on into town to buy clothes and food when they come upon some children playing with a baby chimp. Emily begs and pleads for her grandfather to buy the baby animal, and seeing a smile on her face for the first time since her arrival he relents. So begins a friendship between Emily, her grandfather and Mr. Nickels the chimp that brings them all together, as the world around them changes. As Emily grows up on the edge of a jungle so far away from Ohio, as Bruce grows old and loses his land and wealth to revolution and Mr. Nichols yearns for the jungle that is all around him.