Geordie is a bit of a trouble-maker in his Northern Irish home of Ballyglass. He's a small time crook running with the wrong crowd - nothing too shocking mind you. He's likable enough, in a pet ferret or weasel sort of way. But his appearance upon Danny William's London doorstep bodes none to well for anyone concerned.
Danny, a twenty-something soliciter (Americans, read: lawyer) hates his job and has just broken up with his girlfriend. He's a bit bored with the current state of his life, and the appearance of this childhood chum should be anything but boring.
Stir in a beautiful co-worker at Danny's law firm, a bag of stolen money, and a Northern Irish plot to do something really unsavory with the aforementioned stolen money and you've got Utterly Monkey, the debut novel from Irish poet Nick Laird, lad-lit with just a hint of Irish brogue.
Utterly Monkey is a quick and amusing read, as Laird turns his poet's hand to humor in a send-up of office life that makes the novel something of a cross between The Office (the British version, not the American) and an English caper movie (think Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels).
Though humorous throughout, Nick Laird is not bereft of a serious message to impart. The novel centers around the 12th of July, or "the glorious twelfth," as it might be described by an Ulster Unionist, and while Laird stays well away from decisive commentary upon Irish-English politics, he uses the tension therein to comment upon loyalty and the value of consciously choosing how, why, and with whom one spends one's life's energies. Fortunately, Laird's characters are well fleshed-out and believable enough to be soliloquizing on such topics., and the philosophy is not the least bit heavy-handed.
Nick Laird is known in Britain as a poet for his acclaimed collection of poetry, To a Fault
, and everywhere else as Zadie Smith's
husband. A poet's descriptive finesse applied to the novel form, Utterly Monkey
is an entertaining page-turner, a work of lad-lit that will nonetheless appeal to a broad audience.