Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's a Bonobo Handshake?

A new book I'm really excited about is coming out this week--and its author is coming to The Regulator Thursday night for her inaugural event. The book is Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo, written by a young Aussie/citizen of the world/current resident of Durham named Vanessa Woods.

Bonobo Handshake? I thought you'd never ask... Bonobos are an endangered primate, similar in many ways to chimpanzees. But where as chimpanzees can often be aggressive and even war-like, bonobos are founding members of the "make love, not war" approach to life. Bonobos are into cooperation and the uninhibited enjoyment of the physical pleasures of life. A bonobo handshake turns out to be a common bonobo greeting. When two bonobos meet they... Well we won't get into the details of this here, let's just say that a bonobo handshake is wonderfully x-rated and if I described it fully it wouldn't make it past some of your spam filters.

The story is that a few years back Vanessa Woods fell in love with and married a primate scientist named Brian Hare. In short order she found herself living in the only bonobo sanctuary in the world--in the jungle, just outside of Kinshasa, in the Congo. It was the best of places (because of the amazing people running the sanctuary, and because of the amazing bonobos themselves) and the worst of places (because it was in the Congo, for God sakes).

Bonobo Handshake is Eat Pray Love meets The Poisonwood Bible. Add some incredible bonobos. Stir with a voice that is fresh, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking. I read an advance copy and I loved it. I think this book has the potential to be a Really Big Deal. See more at www.bonobohandshake.com And come meet Vanessa Woods and hear her talk about her book next Thursday night at 7:00. With an author and a book like these, this is sure to be quite an evening! Refreshments will be served.
--Tom Campbell

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