It’s strange, starting to read a novel by someone made famous for their visual skills. You hope, frankly, that they aren’t downright illiterate, being published simply because they have a name rather than because they have any talent with words. Thank God that Chip Kidd can write.
Okay, so he makes some rookie mistakes. The pacing The Cheese Monkeys is way too fast, and the ending is a bit of a cop-out (I’m given to understand that this is partly based on his own experiences, but still, give us some closure). The only reason the book clocks in at 274 pages is because Kidd has given the text some insanely large margins (I must admit, the book is pretty cool to look at, fits comfortably in the hand, etc.; if nothing else, Kidd is an amazing designer). I would imagine that in word count it’s barely more than a novella. But it’s funny. Let’s make that clear. The damned book is hilarious. I laughed out loud more times than I can count. The characters never quite become simple caricatures (at least the main ones don’t), but it’s a close call, because we also never really have enough time to get to know them properly, and in some ways the second half of the book seems like an excuse to get Kidd’s ideas about graphic design down on paper. Not that they are bad ideas; they just aren’t meaty enough to support an entire novel (the humour is, though; it’s great).
I hope Kidd tries another novel, but something longer. I’d certainly read it.
And now: The Spy Who Loved Me, by Ian Fleming.