Book review: Me Cheeta

James LeverThis book by James Lever was something of a word-of-mouth hit, a spoof autobiography by the chimp which played Cheeta in the Tarzan films of the Thirties, and was recommended to me by my husband. It sat on my to-read shelf for a long time, until I had a tired day when I needed something easy to read.

It had me laughing right from page 1. “Dearest humans, So, it’s the perfect day in Palm Springs, California, and here I am – actor, artist, African, American, ape and now author – flat out on the lounger by the pool, looking back over this autobiography of mine. Flipping through it more than reading it, to be honest…”

Okay, the laughs don’t come every page, and the section where Cheeta journeys from Africa to New York then Hollywood could perhaps have been shorter. But it made me laugh. The portrayal of some Hollywood stars is wicked, and there are very familiar names: Flynn, Niven, Dietrich, Rooney, Sanders, Chaplin, the Barrymores, and of course Johnny. Johnny Weissmuller. All fictional of course.

At times, I forgot it was a spoof, so delicious were the laughs. “It would be true to say that I spent at least sixty-five per cent of 1935 masturbating in a cage. But, you know, a cage is a cage is a cage, as Gertrude Stein might have said.”

Click here to watch the Channel 4 news announcement about the death of the real Cheeta.

If you like ‘Me Cheeta’, try these other fictitious autobiographies:-
‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf
‘Nat Tate’ by William Boyd
‘Papillon’ by Henri Charrière

‘Me Cheeta’ by James Lever [UK: Fourth Estate] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
ME CHEETA by James Lever #bookreview via @SandraDanby

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