Up In A Tree In The Park At Night With A Hedgehog

‘What’s wrong?’

Well, that was absurd. The title and its cover were possibly the most fun of the experience.

Main character Benton Kirby does nothing more in life than drift through it.  He looks back at his life and countless mistakes, doesn’t really take any responsibility for it nor seems to feel particularly bad about it. He’s just there and other things just happen to him. Not his fault, what can he do. The more exciting things (a brother is mentioned, whom drives Death around in his cab or the suicidal pets of Benton’s girlfriend) barely get any attention. It’s navel staring with morally (very) grey glasses.

Some of his experiences are enjoyable silly. Absurd isn’t always a negative thing and hey, not every book needs to blow you away. The writing was easy to take in and with it being such a thin book you’ll be done quickly, no matter what your reading speed is. What just bugged me most is Benton’s “Not my fault” attitude. There is no learning curve, things don’t come back to bite him in the behind in any (satisfactory) matter ..he just stumbles on. When he gets to the titular hedgehog, I feel bad for the animal.

This could have been a collection of absurd sketches. With a little more (chronological) back bone it could have been funny. Now it was just ..’there’.

Up In A Tree In The Park At Night With A Hedgehog, P. Robert Smith, Vintage Books 2009

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