Growing up in the South during the 40s and 50s, coming of age and 'coming out' in the Alaskan Arctic during the 60s, maturing as an artist in the Pacific Northwest during the 70s and 80s, Galen Garwood's SELL THE MONKEY is a fascinating memoir, one of humor and poignancy, swimming through generations of racism, homophobia, alcoholism, and uncertainty. It is an engaging chronicle of living and surviving in Ida's World, his glamorous and talented mother, who played ragtime piano at Alaska's legendary Malamute Saloon; it is a tale of monkeys, snakes, pigs, elephants, and insects; a story full of eccentric characters--Keoga the Snake Man, Dirty Earl, Greasy John, Mad Irene.
It's about poets and painters, friends and lovers, art and sex, loss and discovery, and a life blessed by imagination.
Born and raised in Georgia, Galen Garwood has understood early on that life doesn't just smile at us with her beauty. As a child, he's experienced tragedy in the family with her mother's survival of a shooting, lived through the challenges and shame of her elopement with Sam, and endured her errant ways, which eventually saw the young Galen and his siblings put into an orphanage. These are experiences that are powerful enough to leave a painful mark on the psyche of a young man. The reader follows his story as he and his siblings are ferried back to their mother, then their father, and then grandparents.
Galen's story is characterized by tumultuous moments as he journeys through adolescence and struggles to get a job in a bar in Alaska and get himself through college. His quest to make sense of his life will take him across continents to Asia, where he'd make new friends and re-discover a fascinating love for art. The most powerful moment of his life would come when he freely accepts his homosexuality. The question the reader asks is: Can he finally come to grips with himself and fully reconcile with his past, taking full control of his destiny?
Sell The Monkey is a captivating story of family, love and abandonment, and man's search for his identity. The story is told in clear and powerful prose, and the reader is pulled in from the very beginning by the ruthless honesty with which the narrator looks at his life. It's a story that answers the question: What does it take to feel at home with one's self?
I enjoyed the way the protagonist was developed throughout the narrative and how he grows from a victim to someone who can live life on his own terms, embracing art and determining how his work can be appreciated
About the Author
Galen Garwood began exhibiting his paintings at Foster-White Gallery in 1973. Over the course of the last four decades, he has exhibited his paintings in the United States and in Europe. His creative contributions have also been expressed in writing, poetry, multi-media and film. In 1976 he won First Place in Painting at the Pacific Northwest Annual and in 1979 the Hassam Speicher Award at the Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, New York. His multi-media piece 'Adagio' won a Bronze Award at the International Multi-media Film Festival in Philadelphia,1995, and in 1996 was included in the 1996 Venice Biennale's Xenograhia Nomadic Wall and again at 'Art Affair' in New York. His film 'Cadmium Red Light received First Place for Narrative/Documentary at the Port Townsend International Film Festival in 2007 and a First Place Award for Short Documentary for 'Ed and Ed' at the DeReel Film Festival in Australia in 2008, based on the American painter and poet Ed Cain.Since 2002, he has been living in Northern Thailand after leaving the United States to create a documentary on the plight of the Asian Elephant. He is currently working on 'The Dream Sea' Photographs, has begun a new series of paintings he expects to complete in 2015, as well as developing a new book project entitled Elephant Cloud, shaped by the creative imagination of children - their art, poetry, and story - as a world-wide community gift-exchange to help us better understand our important relationships to the elephant and all species.