Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

An effective author makes his or her readers think, and that's exactly what Benjamin Hale did in his controversial novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. Just to warn you, this post isn't a review (coming at the end of the month), and it does have a few spoilers of sorts (I don't give away the ending, though). Anyway, this novel definitely made me ponder a few things I hadn't dedicated much time to before, or at least not recently.


Whoa, nelly. Yup, bestiality, or I guess zoophilia (please, please for the love of God do not Google this- it's basically the same as bestiality). In the novel Bruno Littlemor
e and the scientist, Lydia, who brings him in to her home end up developing a consensual sexual relationship that results in her pregnancy, which is not carried to term (read the book to find out why not). Bruno isn't an ordinary monkey, though, as he ends up fully acquiring language and can function in society on his own, to some degree. He is also the one that pursues the relationship with Lydia, who takes awhile to warm up to the idea and feels a great deal of remorse.

Verdict: I'm a liberal gal, but I can't get on board with this concept, even if the primate species gets to the point where this kind of evolution does occur. T
he book is not necessarily trying to convince you that it's acceptable, but it does make you consider what sort of "alternative" lifestyles and relationships you are comfortable with. If the urge strikes, ask your significant other to wear a costume.


Speaking of evolving, this novel raises the questions of what other species may be one day capable of. As we know, humans and primates
are closely related, and our evolutionary cousins have exhibited a great deal of potential as far as language acquisition and physical competency. So, the question is, could chimpanzees, or any other primate, evolve to the point where they act more human-like? Bruno consciously makes the decision to distance himself from his species and do everything possible to look and act like a human, including wearing clothes, bathing, watching television, speaking, reading, and even getting a nose job.

Verdict: If single-cell organisms can eventually turn
into complex beings, I'd say anything is possible on the evolution train. Do I think it's necessarily probable? No, at least not in my lifetime! Evolution frequently occurs because the adaptation is necessary to survival, and at this point putting on a pair of shoes and using a toilet isn't going t help a chimp. There are also complex issues regarding linguistics on a neurological level that may limit what primates are capable of- the ten million dollar question of nature vs. nurture (Mr. Chomksy, thoughts?).

Animals in Captivity

I used to really love the zoo, because cute animals make me feel all mushy inside. Now, as I get older and learn more, I'm not sold on the idea of keeping wild animals in captivity.

But Christine, you have a dog.

There's a difference between domestic animals (dogs, cats, hamsters, goldfish, etc...) and wild animals (monkeys, tigers, lions, giraffes, etc...). Where exac
tly would I introduce my golden retriever into the wild at? Nebraska? Zimbabwe?

Anyway, in the book both animals living in captivity and using them for science (invasive and noninvasive) are questioned- Bruno the monkey naturally disagrees with both.

Verdict: Capturing animals from the wild for zoos or circuses is unacceptable- yanking an animal out of their natural habitat so that little Johnny can see a tiger while eating cotton candy behind the safety of plexiglass is not okay. Experimenting on animals in such a way that they are going to physically or emotionally damaged is not right either, nor is taking them out o
f the wild to do so. This is tough for me, as I know it is extremely hard to research new drug therapies for dangerous diseases like cancer and AIDS without using animals. Humans or animals? Humans or animals? At the end of the day companies need to spend the extra time, go through the proper IRB and FDA channels, and do human trials.

Wildlife reserves are something different. Personally, I'm a little more flexible here as long as the animals there are treated well, have plenty of room, and have been removed from their homes because they lived in
dangerous environments.

Shock and Awe Tactics

This novel is pretty graphic at times, as far as sexuality, anatomy, and violence. We'll just leave it at that.

Verdict: I'm okay with shock and awe in literature when it is done for a purpose, and I'd say Hale felt that is what he did. I don't believe he was trying to disgust his readers necessarily, or be too over the top, although I can see how more squeamish people would feel this way. There are some novels, like some of Chuck Palahniuk's recent books, that are vulgar just to be vulgar. Now that's just cheap way out.

Alrighty, so a little animal sex, evolution, animal rights, and vulgarity to start my Saturday. Weekend's off to a good start, I'd say.


  1. Sounds like a funky book to say the least. I'm on board with your reservations, and I look forward to the review when it comes later.

  2. What the heck!? What a crazy book. I'd be a little hesitant to download this onto my Kindle. :p