The Triumph Of The Spider Monkey by Joyce Carol Oates


The Triumph of the Spider Monkey by Joyce Carol Oates

Black Sparrow Press (paperback), 1976

89 Pages

Author’s Website


Bobbie Gotteson is found in a foot-locker in the Canal Street bus terminal and, turning early to acts of manic desperation, grows into a life of vengeful, fantasy-imbued murders.


Noise, vibrations, murmuring nosey crowd of bastards with nothing else to do but gawk – grunting sweating bastard in a uniform reaching in and grabbing me out of the darkness and delivering me to light –

–  to lights that is –

Holding me up to those lights. A baby! A baby still alive!


This is my first time reading The Triumph of the Spider Monkey. I’m working my way through JCO’s back catalogue. There’s a lot I haven’t read.

I really enjoyed The Triumph of the Spider Monkey. This novella reminded me a lot of her novella Zombie which I also enjoyed. This novella isn’t an easy read. JCO offers a first person narrative from the point of view of a murderer. It’s not always pleasant being inside Bobby’s head but it’s always unsettling and interesting. The novella is the perfect length. I couldn’t have stayed in Bobby’s head for much longer and certainly not for a 400+ full length novel. I think The Triumph of the Spider Monkey is bold and very different. The broken, disjointed narrative is full of time shifts and does a good job of showing Bobby’s increasingly fragmented state of mind. Despite it’s gory subject matter this novella had some light even funny moments and was very weird and surreal – in a good way.




One Comment Add yours

  1. Never read this one, but it sounds great! Thanks for sharing!

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