A Short-ish History of Monkey Logic


One of the reasons I believe that Monkey Logic is a hard sell is because of its structure. You’ll notice as you read along that the characters (and there are a lot of them) come and go, plot lines start and then fade into the background for a while. The reason for this structure can be explained by the fact that Monkey Logic started out as a collection of short stories.

Around 2003 or so (my memory of the dates is a little fuzzy), I had about 8 complete short stories. I made some effort to get them placed but with no luck. I thought about the possibility of putting together a collection, but the stories I had fell a little short of an acceptable length. I decided to write a few more to fill out the collection.

I had a couple of stories with the same characters and locations, so I decided to exploit these similarities to make the collection seem more cohesive. I added some details to existing stories to make them more of a piece and wrote a couple new stories about some of the existing characters.

As these ideas developed, I began to fashion a chronology. The order of the stories became very important, and the two new stories were getting so they could no longer make sense outside of the collection. They hinged on the events of the other stories and could not stand on their own.

I had worked on this collection, called at the time Crunching Numbers, for about a year, so around 2004, I started thinking about turning the collection into a novel. As I went along, a couple of the stories dropped out. Some dropped out and got put back in. Some repeated this pattern several times as the book grew and shrank and grew and shrank.

Some of the ideas that made Crunching Numbers Crunching Numbers receded in importance. There was a focus in those stories on people with crappy jobs. Some of these elements still exist in Monkey Logic, but they are no longer the main focus. I ditched the title Crunching Numbers but did not know what to call the emerging work. I had been carrying around the title Monkey Logic just because I liked it, but I never had a story to go with it. So, I decided for my own convenience to call the new work Monkey Logic, even though, in the early stages, the story had no monkey.

I think it is still possible to figure out what some of the original stories were, but I don’t think that is a detriment. At first, I was frustrated by the fact that I could not make the stories completely seamless. But as I continued the transformation, I began to like the disjointed feel. It began to feel like real life the way that people come and go, the way they become important for a while only to fade into the background, later revealing their importance.

At this point, I decided to try and make the entire novel feel this way, which is why the structure is as it is. And it’s the reason there are so many characters. I wanted this to be a very busy book that lacks any real main character. I wanted it to have a tight chronology but no central narrative. I even considered giving Monkey Logic a subtitle: A Novel of Sub-Plots. I decided that would be a bit much.

I don’t want to say more for fear of giving too much away. I just felt compelled to give some background information for the curious.