Huddled in her hot cage in a run-down roadside menagerie called Apeland, Margaret, a thousand-pound female gorilla, hoots unhappily for her dead mate. Just up the road, at the taxidermist’s shop, an old lady is paying for having her kittycat stuffed. Down the road a subdivision is going up in the middle of the Florida wilderness. Men dig foundations. Poor, bored, and mosquito-bitten, they wait hopelessly for a little excitement, a fight, a hurricane—anything.
It comes when Margaret escapes into the steaming forest. The county sheriff quickly assembles a posse of local characters and leads this bizarre collection of heavily armed crazies into the palmetto and cypress jungle after the love-starved ape. Among the group are Ed Bias, the would-be hero, and his two young sons; Gaylord Miler, the ketchup bottle murderer and Bias’ s sworn enemy; Walker, the strange taxidermist; Lennox, the animal trainer; Monroe Block, Apeland’s tattered tour guide; and an assortment of odd others. Deeper and deeper into the forest they stalk poor Margaret toward a violent and tragic end.
“Here’s a really mean story, as brutal and bloody-minded as anyone could wish. You can read it with a clear conscience because it’s also a good story; if necessary, you can tell your more delicate friends it’s got art…. Paul Allen may have the sensibility of James M. Cain, but he is ambitious in a literary sort of way…. inescapably brings Faulkner to mind…. Allen writes well and often with wit… expert entertainment, the best of its kind….”
—Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek
“This is a fierce little novel…. Apeland is a fine first achievement. Allen invites comparison with the best… prose writers.”
—Bart Paul, Los Angeles Times
“Allen has a clean drive and a punchy shaft—you can’t mistake his palpable talent.”
“Allen’s characterizations of men and beast are brilliant…. An impressive and elemental first novel.”
“Paul Allen is a writer to be observed, and to be recorded.”
—Tom Horan, Chattanooga Times