Talk about an unwieldy title. I had this on my to read shelf over on Goodreads, but I cannot for the life of me remember why. It may have been the title caught my eye, it may have been a pick of the month when it came out on Amazon or Flavorwire (or indeed both). I really can’t recall, but it popped up in the latest Kindle sale for less than £1, so I bought it.
I should be wary of any novel where the narrator is named Benjamin Benjamin, shouldn’t I? Said narrator, when we meet him, is nearly at rock bottom. Out of work for years, he takes a course in caregiving and winds up working for Trev, a teenager with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Not really the set up you’d expect for a “goofy road trip”. Or maybe it is. Anyway, Benjamin is permanently dodging his wife, whose divorce he refuses to grant and when an opportunity to get the hell out of Dodge shows itself he takes it. Trev’s dad abandoned them shortly after his DMD diagnosis but has hated himself ever since. When he gets into a bad car accident on the other side of the US, Trev convinces his mother that allowing Benjamin to drive him there to see his dad and make amends is a Really Great Idea. And thus the stage is set for all manner of goofiness.
Except, I dunno, I just didn’t find it that goofy. While Benjamin’s reasons for being at rock bottom are sufficiently horrific, it doesn’t change the fact that he spends 90% of the book being a complete tool. The characters they encounter along the way aren’t what I’d call goofy either, they’re varying degrees of really quite sad. This makes the humour feel awkward and forced. It’s like being at a really bad dinner party for 280 pages. Maybe that is what Evison was going for though, in which case, bravo sir. You nailed it.
Ultimately, this was an entertaining enough book to breeze through in no time at all but while it may have been easy enough to read, I suspect when all is said and done, this will be a difficult one to remember.