Despite the old adage about not judging a book by its cover, I have to admit I often buy a book simply because I like the cover art. So I guess it’s not surprise that I ended up with this book, considering that author Chip Kidd is a graphic designer who specializes in book covers. Lucky for me, there’s some pretty good stuff between the covers too.
The Cheese Monkeys is a 1950′s college narrative – namely, “a novel in two semesters”. The narrator is a quirky loner of an art student who doesn’t particularly care for art. He muddles his way through Art 101, but it’s in Art 127 (“Introduction to Graphic Design”) that things really get interesting. Enter Winter Sorbeck, Art 127′s infuriating ideologue of a professor and the name behind Wintergreen gum. Art 127 is an emotional and creative roller coaster, but the novel’s real scene-stealer is the desperately creative and unpredictable Himillsy Dodd, the narrator’s classmate, friend, and sometimes infatuation. Even after the novel’s desolate ending, Himillsy stuck with me. I couldn’t decide whether I loved her or hated her, but I certainly couldn’t forget her.
This is a book that will look fantastic on your shelf (it definitely does on mine!), but it’s a worthwhile read that
feels truly genuine even through the occasional clunky melodrama. And this is coming from someone who
can’t handle unhappy endings. Do it for Himillsy.