Est. 2009

Leapfrog Global Fiction Prize

Dancing at the Gold Monkey


A young naval officer crashes his F-16 fighter jet in the South China Sea, forever changing the lives of the five soldiers who find his body. They move through gritty post-Vietnam Detroit with the women they love in this linked collection of psychological drama, sexual escapades, and latent violence tinged with compassion, grief, and love, arriving finally at the death of one man’s son in Iraq. Allen Learst’s writing explores an interior war–the war of the psyche fought by all returning soldiers–and their attempts to adapt and survive without the knowledge it takes to heal or alleviate their pain.

“Renders transient moments of great beauty, to reveal the way we might transcend sorrow by our unwavering attention to exquisite detail and the mystery of creation.” – Melanie Rae Thon

“Time jumps in this accomplished story cycle, as does the boundary betwixt reality and dream, memory and imagination. . . . And war, as it will, soaks all. Learst writes with the special visceral authority of combat seen and visions earned. Vital, necessary reading.” – Donald Anderson, author of Fire Road

“The destruction of the human spirit at the hands of an experience that is as emotionally pyrotechnic and morally absurd as the behavior of [Learst’s] characters.” – Gordon Weaver, author of Count a Lonely Cadence


ALLEN LEARST grew up believing he was destined to work for the auto industry, and when he was eighteen, took a job at the Chrysler Tank Plant; and later, after Vietnam, where he served as a combat infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division, he worked for the Ford Motor Company Interior Plant. Factory life, however, didn’t agree with him and he decided to take advantage of his G.I. Bill. He began his education at Macomb County Community College. He earned a BS and MA from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan and a PhD in Creative Writing from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he studied writing with Gordon Weaver, author of Count a Lonely Cadence. Before and during his college years he had more than twenty blue collar jobs. Before returning to school to complete his doctorate, Allen Learst worked at the Department of Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He has published in War, Literature and the Arts, Alaska Quarterly Review, Chattahoochee Review, Hawaii Review, Ascent, and The Literary Review. He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin in Marinette, Wisconsin.


  • ISBN: 978-1935248293
  • Length: 141 pages
  • Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 7.1 inches

Dancing at the Gold Monkey