Trials of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir

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Macmillan, Sep 8, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 371 pages
2 Reviews
"When Darwin called his second book The Descent of Man instead of The Ascent of Man he was thinking of his progeny."

So declares Darwin's great-great grandson Matthew Chapman as he leaves behind his stressful career as a Hollywood screenwriter and travels to Dayton, Tennessee where in 1925 creationist opposition to the teaching of evolution in schools was played out in a famous legal drama, the Scopes Trial.

The purpose of this journey is to see if opinions have changed in the seventy- five intervening years. A defiant atheist, Chapman is confronted not only by the fundamentalist beliefs that continue to banish the theory of evolution but by his own spiritual malaise as the outward journey becomes an inward quest, a tragicomic "accidental memoir".

"First there was Charles Darwin, two yards long and nobody's fool. Then there was his son, my great-grandfather, Sir Francis Darwin, an eminent botanist. Then came my grandmother Frances, a modest poet who spent a considerable amount of time in rest-homes for depression From her issued my beloved mother, Clare, who was extremely short, failed to complete medical school, and eventually became an alcoholic. Then we get down to me. I'm in the movie business."

Trials of the Monkey combines travel writing and reportage, as Chapman records his encounters in the South, with history and the accidental memoir of a man full of mid-life doubts in a genre-breaking first book that is darkly funny, provocative and poignant.
 

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User Review  - Devil_llama - LibraryThing

The author, a descendant of Charles Darwin, travels back to Dayton, Tennessee to visit the site of the now famous Scopes "monkey" trial. Overall a good story, but not as much about evolution as it is about the life of the author. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

The author, a descendant of Charles Darwin, travels back to Dayton, Tennessee to visit the site of the now famous Scopes "monkey" trial. Overall a good story, but not as much about evolution as it is about the life of the author. Read full review

Contents

The
1
An Alligator Up My Arse in Roanoke Virginia
11
The Menace of Darwinism
23
What Goes On
31
The Trail of Tears
44
The Last Guest at the Magnolia House
56
Clarence Darrow
66
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
79
Flowers and the Promise of Moonshine
207
Head Symptoms
218
Stumped
228
Sediment in the Mouth
236
Where Did Cain Get His Wife?
244
Achtung Rocky
256
Barefoot in the Glass
275
Spelunking with the Christians
284

My Mother
85
Heyall Is a Lake of Fah
106
John Thomas in Exile
118
God Takes a Shot
134
Monkeyville
144
My Favourite Creationist
159
How to Get Along Sensibly with Girls
170
Home Is Where the Heart Is
197
Consenting Adults
302
Stumbling in the Wilderness
321
A Ticket Home
338
Saint Matthews Epilogue
363
BIBLIOGRAPHY
369
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
371
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Matthew Chapman was born in Cambridge, England and is the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. He has written and directed five films, and lived for many years in Los Angeles. A Hollywood screenwriter he now lives in Manhattan. Trials of the Monkey is his first book.

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