From The Love Song of Monkey by Michael S.A. Graziano

The Love Song of Monkey is a very good and very short novel. Simply put, the story begins with an AIDS patient who seeks out alternative treatment at the behest of his wife. The treatment itself slightly resembles science fiction after the style of Vonnegut. From there, the story really takes a surreal turn as the patient begins his long, meditative recovery with Venus as his guide. I think I’ll leave it at that; you really should read it as it’s only 149 quick pages. Here’s a sample:

“What is medicine? Honestly? A witch doctor, he waves his feather duster over your head. He works at the spirit level. In fact, he works at the placebo level, which is powerful and works extremely well. This is a psychological level of intervention. So far so good. But medicine progresses. A battle surgeon. You break a bone, he sets it. You get a spear to the side, he binds the wound together. This is a mechanical interventiion. The body as tubes and struts. Excellent. If the spear doesn’t go in too far, you are okay. But the march of progress continues. The next level that medicine reaches? In the nineteenth century, microscopic germs. Kill them, soap them, sterilize them. In the early twentieth century, douse them in antibiotics. But do antibiotics work? There we go deeper. There we reach the molecular level. You see, don’t you, that the medicine of the twentieth century was obsessed with molecular intervention? Fix the break at the level of enzymes, of proteins, even DNA …”

Through Google I’ve learned that Graziano is a research scientist at Princeton, studying neuroscience and “body sense” – with monkeys, naturally. This has everything to do with why this is science fiction in the very best sense of the word. And I have to say it: Thanks, doc.

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