Benton Kirby is in a spot of bother…
His life hasn’t exactly gone to plan. This is hardly surprising, however, as he never really had one in the first place. Armed with a philosophy degree, a dead fiance, a brother who drives Death around London in his black cab, and a girlfriend with a history of suicidal pets, Benton – ambitionless and emotionally disengaged – embarks, for no apparent reason, on an affair with a beautiful, sexually adventurous, Korean virgin.
Following a strange snowballing of even stranger events, he finds himself, at last, exactly not where he ever imagined he would be, up a tree at night in the park with a hedgehog… – Goodreads
I had such high hopes for this book. Not only is it quirky, not only does it have a truly fantastic cover, but it comes with Douglas Coupland’s seal of “totally f**king brilliant.” I figured it was a lock.
So it was with no small measure of excitement that I embarked on this literary journey. I had selected this book to read for the Readathon, and I read it in one go.
It definitely had its moments – there were some truly great bits, and a significant number of hilarious ones. I had hoped for absurdity, which this book delivered (like the time the protagonist’s electric shaver dies halfway through his morning shave and he has to run out to the store with a half-beard).
I think there were two main problems for me. The first was that I really didn’t like the main character. He’s a liar and a cheat, two things I have absolutely no respect for or patience with. It’s written in such a way that you’re supposed to be rooting for him – but that means rooting for two women to get hurt, and that’s something I just can’t do. Not as a reader, or as a person. So it was hard to engage with a story whose protagonist I pretty much just wanted to smack.
The second problem came with the chronology. The book tended to skip around, from the present day to the recent past to the not-so-recent past. It was, frankly, confusing.
This wasn’t a terrible book, but it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. If you’re looking for a humorous book that is easy to get into – and get through – particularly if you like sarcastic and dark humour, you’ll probably get a kick out of it. But if cheating is on your dealbreaker list, skip it.
Author: P. Robert Smith
Published By: Vintage Originals
Genre: Fiction, Humour, Absurdity
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