Read The Monkey's Mask by Dorothy Porter Online


The Monkey's Mask is a totally unique experience. It's poetry. It's a crime thriller. It's where high art meets low life, passion meets betrayal, and poetry faces profanity on the streets of a harsh modern city. Dorothy Porter's internationally bestselling verse novel holds you in its grip from the first verse paragraph to the final haunting pages. The Monkey's Mask won thThe Monkey's Mask is a totally unique experience. It's poetry. It's a crime thriller. It's where high art meets low life, passion meets betrayal, and poetry faces profanity on the streets of a harsh modern city. Dorothy Porter's internationally bestselling verse novel holds you in its grip from the first verse paragraph to the final haunting pages. The Monkey's Mask won the Age Book of the Year for Poetry in 1994, the National Book Council Award for Poetry and the Braille Book of the Year. It has been adapted for stage and radio and is currently being adapted for film. The book has been widely translated and published overseas.NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING SUSIE PORTER AND KELLY McGILLIS...

Title : The Monkey's Mask
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781875657438
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Monkey's Mask Reviews

  • Trevor
    2019-04-24 15:25

    I preferred to read the poetry in this as prose that had been chopped up funny – and that was fairly easy to do as the poetry was so light and insubstantial that it might as well have been prose most of the time. The story to this sounded a bit daft to me – but then, I know nothing about the Australian poetry scene, so perhaps it is a seething mass of bodies screwing one another followed by the occasional murder. As a murder mystery this was painfully predictable – annoyingly so, in fact. There is a line in Sleuth where Olivier says that murder mysteries are something like the general recreation of noble minds. But to be that there does need to be some sort of challenge to them. To be honest, I prefer there to be less mystery and more character development – if there has to be a choice. If you can get both working, well, that’s great, but I often prefer characters over plot, if you can’t do both. This does neither. The characters are overly thin cut outs and I suspect only ‘work’ because of the gender twisting of the central character. Making Sam Spade a dyke wasn’t enough novelty to keep my interest. Much of the book seemed to be written for the lesbian sex scenes, which, like most other sex in print, is never really as sexy as you might hope. You know:Her BreastsHer breasts are not my breasts.Under her dress they push towards my handsUnder my handsthey push towards my breaststhey stop my heart.they close my eyes.she’s not my mothershe’s not my friend Diana. Dracula.Her breasts suck me.Now, it could be that I am the only person in the world that isn’t seething with sexual passion after reading this gem of erotic poetry, maybe I’m really nothing but a cold fish – but, if that is the case, so be it.I’ve had a quick look at other reviews and they are virtually without exception gushing about this book. I find that a little strange, but put it down to the fact that many of them even say they were so surprised they could read and understand poetry while also following the murder mystery that the whole experience left them feeling a little chuffed with themselves. I didn’t particularly like the poetry (although I admit I've probably been a bit unfair in my selection above - which is particularly crap) and found the storyline far too predictable. I’m not sure the sex was ever really going to be enough to make up for the other problems with this one, so while others have seen the sex as an added bonus, I’ve seen it as symptomatic of a more general problem. If I was going to offer some very general advice to writers, and I concede immediately I have no right to offer such advice – it would be that if you don’t have enough story to be getting on with then adding sex probably isn’t going to make things any more interesting. And adding even more sex, as is done here, is probably going to draw attention to the problem, not make it any less obvious. There’s a film to this one – I’ve never seen it and am unlikely to as I didn’t think there was enough of a story to really carry a film, although, obviously there would be lots of soft-porn lesbian sex scenes, so I guess that might have made it moderately successful. Like I said, the whole thing seemed a bit daft to me.

  • Sonia
    2019-05-06 17:26

    I’ve read a little poetry. I’m trying to learn more by reading more poetry. I lot of it alludes me still. So a lesbian thriller written entirely in prose? Well, I’m walking into strange territory…Libraries are just as enjoyable as bookshops. I wander through the aisles seeing what catches my eye. There are a list of books I hope to get through this year as part of challenges but whim-reading is also good for the soul.The Monkey’s Mask caught my eye. I read 50 pages while I was at the library and took it home to read the remainder of this incredible book. I’ve written about Dorothy Porter’s final collection The Bee Hut and loved her deceptively simple poetry. Mythology is still difficult for me to read but there is beauty in her poems that I think everyone can appreciate.This story follows Jill Fitzpatrick, a private investigator who is looking for a missing girl named Mickey. P.I. Jill has a slippery relationship with the cops and the missing teenager’s parents don’t seem to trust the police to get the job done. As she delves into Mickey’s life, meeting and interviewing a number of people, Jill finds herself having an affair with Mickey’s teacher, Dr Diana Maitland.Now, let’s be clear. It’s erotic. There are occasions where some woman is between some other woman’s legs. Correction – on many occasions.But there is also incredible wit and humour. At one point, Jill goes to a poetry reading and she is almost writhing in her seat with pain. I see the irony – Porter, a poet, writes prose about a P.I. sitting through a poetry reading who is hating every moment of it:"I’ve tried listening.Bill calls light ‘dusky’in every bloody poemand he’s got a thingabout his grandfather’s hatthe lucky bastardmust be dead.Come on, Bill,that’s it, mate,last fucking poemI’ll be dead and burnt to ashesbefore Bill’s dusky lightsetson his grandad’s hat."The missing girl is a budding poet and after reading some of her amateur poems, Jill reflects on how a poem starts. This is powerful prose from Porter:"Is this how poems start?when every riff on the radiohooks in your throatis this how poems start?when the vein under her skinhooks in your throatis this how poems start?when insomnia poundslike spooked black horseswhen the day breakslike car crash glasstell me, Mickey,you knewtell medoes a poem startwith a hook in the throat?"As a lesbian thriller, it’s only fitting to write of the relationships of LGBT and societal pressures which is so simply and beautifully put when Jill talks with her mother:"Mum sniffs‘Jill, you can look really nicewhen you want toit won’t kill youto wear a dressnow and then.’Mum touches my hair‘It used to be so pretty.’and after three gin and tonics‘You don’t have to beso conspicuouswe all know what you are.’do you, Mum?I’m curious. Fill me in.What am I?"I enjoyed this book so much. I don’t really know if I have a certain ‘taste’ anymore. I’ve tried so many kinds of books and have been surprised many times. Sometimes I disliked a book I was ‘supposed to’ like and enjoyed others that were as far from my typical reading habits as this one. You just never know.

  • Tom Bensley
    2019-04-26 11:43

    Most people that pick up this book would probably think, "A crime novel in the form of poetry? Don't see that every day." It was certainly what I thought, anyway. I came to reading this book because of my university course and, as always, my faith in Australian literature continues to build. Dorothy Porter's novel is stripped down to the bare bones of the crime novel, but it just happens to be done by a brilliant poet. The imagery in the verses stands out as some of the most appropriate to the situation I have ever seen. It's not all flowers and deep blue seas for the sake of poetry. My favourite thing about this strange little book has to be its attitude. Not just of the gruff, lesbian private detective (who screams "Female Phillip Marlowe" in certain parts) but the entire style of the poetry. As a reader, you never feel lost or wondering where you are, even though Porter only chooses to describe scenes and characters in a word or two. The plot itself is hard for me to review. It's a pretty standard whodunnit murder story, but the nuances of the story and writing hold it far above the rest. The inclusion of the victim's tortured poetry and being given the pleasure of trying to decipher who she is talking about is just one of the many things Porter offers to her readers. I already mentioned my favourite thing about The Monkey's Mask, but here's the reason I think it is a masterpiece. After finishing, my whole conception of poetry has been changed. Yes, I admit I would always turn my nose up when poetry was shoved under it because, well, I can't really answer that. I was arrogant, I guess. This poetic verse novel shed my arrogant skin and showed what was really underneath that. Much like the stark writing style of Dorothy Porter's, The Monkey's Mask, I guess.

  • Hildegunn Hodne
    2019-04-20 14:41

    A poetry collection written as a lesbian detective story. Quite different, and it hangs together very well. The language is also good, even with the rather heavy focus on sex and sex talk. A good twist of the story in the end, and all in all a great read.

  • Lee
    2019-04-19 18:29

    surprisingly fantastic. this book isn't so much about what it says as what it does: the plot isn't revolutionary, and the sexually deviant "twist" is a bit of a 90s cop-out imo, but that doesn't really matter. what's interesting here is how the genres and modes tussle with one another, creating a "novel in verse" that is at once pacey and pulpy while retaining a poetic sense of linguistic pacing and weighted white space. witty, atmospheric, and genuinely erotic, with a brilliantly complex and authentically rendered protagonist. not perfect, and not for everyone, but a quick, compelling read, with lots of interesting gender-play and concurrent themes of identity and masquerade. title comes from a Basho haiku: year after year—- / on the monkey's face / a monkey's mask

  • Nathan
    2019-04-24 14:44

    Laying my cards down at the outset, I don't read poetry and I'm not big on gender politics either. Given these predispositions, I'm amazed that I not only finished this book, but enjoyed it as well. It's simply unlike anything I've ever read before. I kept expecting the novel to unravel, to stray from the tightrope of its own cleverness, but Porter's footing is faultless. This verse novel is a triumph and succeeds despite all of the reasons that I expected it wouldn't.The obscurity of the ending, and the lack of definitiveness of the actual investigation - a personal preference, I'll admit - is all that prevented this novel from receiving 5 stars.Go read this. You'll be richer for the experience.

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-13 11:48

    I enjoy a verse novel; quick to read, condensed down to the essentials. As I don’t like suspense as a literary technique, this being a verse novel made me able to stand the suspense. I wouldn’t have persevered if it had been a prose novel - add in I can’t stand people being blinded to reality by sexual desire, I would have tossed this aside if it were a prose novel. For the “novelty” of being a verse novel, I give it four stars. For the shitty ending, I give it three. Average to thre and a half but as you know, Goodreads doesn’t allow half stars so I’ve rounded down. Who knew there are so many poets in Sydney and such a big poetry scene? And that they are all fucking each other?

  • Sally Edsall
    2019-05-12 15:46

    I don't know enough about poetry to tell of this is good or bad. A lesbian "detective" story in poetry. Supposedly erotic (I didn't think so). Has had great reviews but left me cold. It was obvious almost straight away "whodunit".Most of the short poems that comprise the story can stand alone. I suppose that means the structure is good?

  • Rita Reese
    2019-05-19 13:23

    I love the idea of this--in fact, I'd had the idea to do this myself and then heard that someone had beat me to the punch. So 4 stars because it's not the book I would have written, but I did read the whole thing in one evening. Porter was a brilliant poet who died far too young.

  • Liam
    2019-05-04 15:40

    Queer australian noir in verse! Either you're already sold, or you never will be (and never will be happy?)

  • George
    2019-05-05 15:49

    3.5 stars. A very short story told as a poem. The descriptions are very concise and vivid. Jill Fitzgerald, a private investigator, attempts to discover the facts behind the death of Mickey Norris, a teenage girl. Jill meets Diane, Jill's poetry teacher. Jill and Diane have a sexual relationship. Diane is married to Nick. It's set around Sydney, Australia in the 1980s. The poems within the story and the story itself have a lot of 'Australian' references. Certainly not a story for everyone, however, it's a story that will only take a couple of hours to read. I liked the book for it's clever, concise, vivid descriptions.

  • Courtney
    2019-05-01 17:21

    So this is an odd one to review. You don't come across a sapphic detective story in verse every day.The overall plot is pretty simple. Unfortunately I sort of had the plot picked out very early on but that didn't effect my enjoyment of the book in any way. There was still enough of a story to sink into to.Some of the individual poems were utterly brilliant and each contributed to the plot in it's own way. Brilliant, original, refreshing.

  • Erin
    2019-04-21 11:32

    Between a 2.5-3/5; Again not my type of book but a very different and interesting one to read in an hour or so. After reading the classic hard boiled private detective crime novel The Big Sleep this was quite unique, considering the Australian setting, the lesbian protagonist and the story being told through poems

  • soulAdmitted
    2019-04-22 11:48

    Oggi tre stelle. In una giornata più - o meno - poetica quattro. Quattro anche in un luogo più - o meno - assolato. Quattro più a nord, in ogni caso, e quattro in prospettiva, soprattutto. Tre in un impeto di oscura equità. Che ci sta.

  • Malky
    2019-05-09 11:46

    As the book is entirely in verse I thought it was very interesting. Good take on the private detective story with the femma fatale.

  • Julie
    2019-05-12 11:40

    This is a detective story written in poetry. It's highly unusual but surprisingly much more interesting than I expected it to be. The writing is of the highest quality.

  • The Black Cockie
    2019-05-10 13:41

    Thrilling, sexy, and compelling. Dorothy porter's novel in verse.

  • P.V. LeForge
    2019-04-30 12:35

    The idea of a novel in verse is not a new one. Take The Iliad, for instance, or Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. The Brownings both wrote novels in verse. More recently, Vikram Seth had a surprise bestseller in his The Golden Gate. Most, if not all of these take the form of a long poem, while The Monkey’s Mask is comprised of a series of many shorter poems—most only a page long—each a “chapter” of the novel. What this does is cut down on almost everything—descriptions, backstory, conversation, and relationships. But Porter does this with such a deft hand that what we see is the essence of the necessary; what she leaves out is the superfluous—things we tend to skip over in other books. Here are a few lines that characterize Diana Maitland, Jill’s love interest, perfectly and without taking several pages.She’s thirty somethingmaybe forty her hair honey-blondstreaks falls in her eyesshe pushes it back with a fidgety nail-bitten handshe got eyes that flirt or fightshe’s gritty,she’s brightoh christ help me she’s a bit of alright!Porter is able to give us Jill’s impressions of someone in an instant.Tony’s companyis hard cold worklike defrosting a refrigeratorYet even in poetic form, the mystery is a true one. A family hires private investigator Jill Fitzgerald to find their missing daughter, Michelle Norris. When the daughter turns up dead, they continue to pay her to find the killer. There are the usual suspects—in this case several poets and teachers at her college that Michelle was obviously obsessed with. In fact, we see them through Michelle’s own eyes when Jill discovers a cache of the girl’s own poems, many of which are sexy, almost obscene. Jill has almost no interaction with the police, which saves even more time and space. Instead, she tells us Michelle's mother has just rungshe's jack of the copsI'm back on the job.Because the descriptions of poets and poetry in general come through Jill’s eyes, it gives an impression of pedantry, of boredom, almost of silliness—spending one’s life doing, well, not much. Yet what we are reading is poetry, and it is anything but silly. Porter’s poems are down to earth, almost minimalistic, and very readable. The only problem I had with it is that I’m not sure what Jill does with the information she gathers once she has solved the mystery. It is a book to be read more than once—especially by writers who tend to be a bit too flowery and detailed in their descriptions—and that’s not something that can be said about most books. Although the round-off will show 4 stars, my actual rating is more like a 4.4.Author Note: P.V. LeForge is the author of four collections of poetry, including My Wife Is a Horse.

  • Lyn
    2019-04-19 11:22

    Very cleaver use of verse to tell the story

  • Gisela
    2019-05-12 13:29

    A crime novel where the "detective" is an Australian lesbian private investigator. OK, that's not too big a deal. But a whole "who-dunnit" written in verse? That definitely a first — for me, at least. And I should point out that we are talking about modern free verse and not old-style "Man from Snowy River" ballad stuff here ...This verse novel is pure gold about a lot of very rough diamonds. It worked brilliantly for me as a detective story (mind you, I'm not really familiar with that genre) but the poetry itself ranged from excellent to astonishing. Porter had me hooked by the end of the first poem in the book, where our "heroine", Jill Fitzpatrick, is looking in the mirror, having decided she's ready for some new action in her life instead of doing the same old "insurance job" work. We know we are in for some action when we read the concluding words of this first poem (which is actually called "Trouble") when Jill concludes: "I want you, trouble, on the rocks."Porter's poems are lean, mean and smart but not without heart (not unlike her protagonist, Jill). There are many amusing "meta-poetic" digs at poets and poetry as an academic pursuit and the whole poetry scene. And lots of wonderful allusions to the music of the era. This book is now more than 20 years old and I can see why people are still talking about it and why it's still on bookshop shelves (and in my local library). I loved this book so much I'm going to buy my own copy now, so I can dip into it again at my leisure. And I will definitely be adding more Dorothy Porter to my reading list!

  • Claire Genevieve
    2019-05-08 16:50

    This book, a personal favorite, is not just the best murder mystery I have ever read but is also the best book of poetry I have ever read. The minimalist style of Dorothy Porter is well suited to the genre and the book rockets along taking you for the ride.If you like books about hardboiled detectives, who happen to be lesbians, unsolved and seemingly unsolvable mysteries this book is for you. If you want to read a famous poets impression of the darker side of the poetry scene this book is for you.If you have any like of poetry at all read it.The day I bought this book I started reading it on the train but couldn't stop, even as my stop approached. When I got off the train I sat down on a bench on the station platform and read the book until it was finished. That was about ten years ago. It has been one of my favorite novels ever since. It is also one of the main reasons I have returned to writing and began trying to make a career out of it.Read it.Oh, and see the movie, not many modern poets have had their book turned into a movie.

  • R.E. Conary
    2019-04-27 11:36

    Poetry is a distillation of thought and action. Murder mysteries are a search for truth and--sometimes--justice. The Monkey's Mask travels erotic yet brutal, dark byways as Australian PI Jill Fitzpatrick pursues answers to a missing teen's death. Each chapter, each scene distilled to its essence in a short poem to thrill in its sexuality or abhor the consequences.Mickey's murder on Page Threeunder the big black headlinesthe photo taken by her dadat her eighteenth birthday party“petite, pretty and only nineteen”like a line from a sixties song“sexually assaulted, strangled and dumped.”Mickey in a police lenschunks out of her arms and legsfrom the pack of dogs that found herbarefoot, her shirt round her neck no pantsher face swollen with rotlaid out by her killerin the fetal position.Many thrillers and mysteries have claimed to leave you "haunted and gasping." This one will.

  • Lucia Kelly
    2019-05-19 15:23

    This was such a disappointing book.I felt a constant disconnect from all the characters. Especially the main detective, her thought processes made no sense. I would have thought logical thinking and puzzle-solving skills were pretty fundamental for someone who solves crimes for a living but apparently not. I felt like the lesbian angle was put in simply to be NEW and FRESH and EXCITING and EROTIC rather than actually adding to the story in any concrete way. It was mostly just lesbian sex. Not interested, sorry. I couldn't understand why she loved Diana so much. She was such an awful, slimy person. I figured out whodunnit literally a third into the book. There was no subtlety at all, which defeated the purpose of this supposed thriller.The only positive feature were some select turns of phrase. But those were select. The quality of the writing was patchy at best. Would not recommend.

  • Jody
    2019-05-07 13:35

    This is an erotic mystery/thriller in verse and it's brilliant. I read this several years ago and loved it and after just recently having written a paper about the intersection of crime fiction and gender identity, I thought I might pick it up again for the pleasure of it.The text is written by an Australian author and is peppered with quite a few Australianisms, but Porter has kindly provided a glossary for any of you who might need one ;). The words flow with such intensity, and each chapter feels like a sudden intake of breath and you might find yourself trying to race the words. Read it once, quickly, follow the shotgun rhythm, then go back with a nice cup of coffee (this coming from a tea freak, no less) and lap at the words for all their cleverness and punch.

  • Stephanie
    2019-04-25 12:37

    This is an intriguingly conceived book: a crime thriller in poetry form. A colleague of Erik's teaches it at AU. The main character is a lesbian PI in Australia, and she falls hard for the femme fatale. I suspect it was mostly the lesbian sex that made it an international bestseller when it came out. It's an interesting combination of elements but the execution doesn't live up to the concept. The end is a bit lame. Mostly I was bothered by the fact that she didn't do more with language in the poetry. I know it's basically a novel in verse, so one can't expect too much of the poetry, but it seemed like each poem could have been much more of a poem.

  • Tichaona Chinyelu
    2019-04-26 13:34

    I read this as part of my research into epics and/or verse novels. It definitely wasn't an epic. I admit to being a bit lost by the ending. The main character, a private detective, is roaming around looking for the killer of a young woman poet. All of a sudden the case can't be solved. I'm going to have to revisit to see if I can gain a deeper understanding of how that happened. For now, however, three stars.I did appreciate the format though. It's an interesting way to read a story, in verse form.

  • Declan Melia
    2019-05-04 11:24

    This was just awesome. Safe to say I've never read anything like it and I enjoyed every too-short second. Incredibly evocative of the hot Sydney nights and the cold mountain mornings, I was transported any time I cracked the cover. Don't be daunted by the format this is really easy to read, it's as if Miss Porter has stripped away all the unnecessary detail fo the story and left us only the sensations and atmosphere but you pick everything up in the way it makes you feel. A real achievement and not a book I'll soon forget.

  • Jas
    2019-04-27 18:47

    I read bits and pieces of "The Monkey's Mask" throughout my senior years at high school, since it fit perfectly into the Language and Gender module I was studying in English. I didn't finish it as I'd already found the poems I was going to deconstruct, but the actual story was fairly interesting so I might give it a go when I'm in the mood for some pretty full-on sex verse... Not a bad book, but fairly confronting at times! Really like the feminist vibe given off by Porter though.

  • Cirrus Minor
    2019-05-07 19:38

    Eigentlich hatte ich schon beim Lesen des Klappentextes beschlossen, die Geschichte nicht zu lesen, da es nicht nach einem für mich interessanten Buch klang. Im Endeffekt habe ich es dann aufgrund der Kürze doch gelesen.Leider hat mich diese Art der Lyrik nicht wirklich überzeugt und viel länger hätte ich vermutlich auch nicht durchgehalten. Ein spannender Versuch, der in mir indes keine Freundin gefunden hat.

  • Borisbadenough
    2019-04-26 11:44

    lesbian detective novel in verse with strong erotic element - you'd think it would be a slow difficult read but in fact I read the whole thing in a couple of hours, the poetry format meant everything extraneous was cut out of the narrative and we were left with the essentials, a very compelling read