Animal house

By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  April 30, 2008

Partway through the writing of Elephants, Gruen had “a terrible writer’s block” and moved her writing desk into a closet to minimize distractions.

“On a smaller scale, what was hard about it was that I had to kill a couple of characters that I really loved,” Gruen remembered. “It took me a couple of days to work up to doing that. I had emotional seepage from fictional world to real world, and I was very grumpy.”
For the new novel, Gruen had “two-way conversations” with two bonobos at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa. Though the bonobos there use a lexigram board to communicate, she has her fictional bonobos using American Sign
“I am having a go at the tabloid culture and the reality TV culture, and my apes end up in a reality TV show called Ape House,” Gruen explained. “And the fun ensues.”

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