Friday, December 14, 2012

The Old Man and The Monkey by George Polley

Writing stories is one of the most fascinating things I have ever done. It is certainly the case with my novella “The Old Man and The Monkey”. One morning in 2006 I awoke from a dream about a big Japanese “snow” monkey (“snow” because they live in Japan’s snowy north). He had a bright red face and something of a snarl, so didn’t look especially inviting, but his eyes seemed friendly enough. Why had he appeared and what was I to do with him? Since I didn’t know, I asked him. I’m a writer, after all, and writers do odd things like that. “Why did you show up?” I asked; “And what am I supposed to do?”
            “Listen,” he seemed to say. So I did. And over the next several months the story of the old man and the monkey appeared. The first puzzle was where to locate him. I chose Japan’s most northern island, Hokkaido, where my wife is from. “But,” I said, “monkeys don’t live there.”
            “Doesn’t matter,” he seemed to say.
            “Well, where in Hokkaido?” I wondered, digging out a map of Hokkaido and looking at the southeast part of the island.
            “You figure it out,” seemed to be his answer, “not not there.”
            So I began looking farther west, and settled on a tiny village with no name somewhere along the rail line between the cities of Fukugawa and Asahikawa, about a hundred miles northeast of Hokkaido’s capitol, Sapporo. And there began the legend of the old man and the monkey, their friendship, and what it meant to the villagers and the old man’s family. The old man’s name, by the way, is Genjiro Yamada, his wife’s name is Harue (pronounced “Harooay”), and the monkey’s name Yukitaro, which means snow monkey in Japanese. It’s a simple story that’s been compared with “The Little Prince” by French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a story that I read in high school eons ago.
            Is it a children’s story? Well, children do like it, and so do adults, so I guess I’d say it has a wide appeal, which is what I intended. All I was doing was telling the old monkey’s story, letting him guide me. Funny thing, that’s often my experience: I think of a character and the character tells me his or her story. And if I get it wrong (which I sometimes do), the whole thing comes to a halt until I listen closely enough and allow the character to talk. My job as a story teller, after all, is to listen and tell the story as it wants to be told. At least, that’s what works the best for me, and people seem to like the results.
            So if you’re looking for an interesting adventure involving an old man and his monkey friend. It’s not a very long tale (a bit over 7,200 words), but it’s long enough. Try as I might to lengthen it, nothing worked. “The story,” the monkey Yukitaro seemed to be telling me, “is as long as it’s supposed to be.”
            And it is.

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The Old Man and The Monkey
George Polley

Genre: Adventure, Inspirational, Legend

Publisher:  Taylor Street Publishing

ISBN: 9781451543773

Number of pages:  60
Word Count: 7,267

The Old Man and The Monkey is about a village elder in Japan and the large monkey who became his friend over the last five years of his life. Since the villagers don't like monkeys, none of them approve of the friendship between the old man Genjiro Yamada and Yukitaro ("snow monkey" in Japanese).

But Genjiro refuses to give up the friendship, even when his wife objects to it. After all, monkeys are nuisances and thieves. But over time, both Genjiro’s wife and the villagers come to grudgingly accept him, especially when, on several occasions, they receive a special blessing from him.

'The Old Man & The Monkey' is a stunningly beautiful story of a relationship which develops between an old man and a creature which is regarded as a dangerous pest in Japan, a snow monkey, in George Polley's moving allegory of dignity in the face of prejudice and racism.

About the Author:

George Polley was born in Santa Barbara, California and raised in Seattle, Washington. He has lived in California (Berkeley and Stockton), Illinois (Cooks Mills  and Villa Grove), Minnesota (Luverne, Marshal and Minneapolis), and from 1984 until early in 2008, in Seattle, when he and his wife moved to Sapporo, Japan so that she could fulfill her dream of returning to the land of her birth.

His work has appeared in the South Dakota Review, Crow's Nest, Expanding Horizons, The Enchanted Self, Community Mental Health Journal, Maturing, The Lyon County (Minnesota) Review  Wine Rings, North Country Anvil, North American Mentor Magazine, the McLean County (Illinois) Poetry Review, River Bottom, Tower Talks and Foundations.

He has also authored several booklets in the mental health field, two of them co-authored with Ana Dvoredsky, M.D. in 2007.

George's e-book 'The Old Man & The Monkey' poses one of the most elegant and powerful arguments against racism of all time, and his 'Grandfather & The Raven' argues equally compellingly against violence in all its forms. 

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Debby said...

Animals can bring so much into your life. Sounds like an amazing story.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Bookmarks said...

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