Benjamin – Pedro Proenca
I was always going to love this book. I love existential crises adventure books – ask Garrett, he knows. So, it was with baited breath and an open heart that I sat down with this book. And Pedro delivered – oh, boy did he deliver.
Benjamin is a balloon who, along with his headless teenaged side-kick, witness green men loot the bookshop he is being held, sort of, hostage in by Karen (a woman who thinks Benjamin is her long dead husband), and that's just the opened salvo in this wonderful adventure. Soon, Benjamin is called on by the Janitor to undertake a quest for the very soul of the mall, against the unknowable Monster.
I find existential books to be about the most fundamental things which make us human. And what could be more human than a sentient balloon and his headless best friend? Well, practically anything, but in Pedro's capable hands it works. Existential quest books are a search for meaning. Who are we? Why are we? What are we supposed to be doing? What the hell is “good”? Or, as Pedro puts it, shouldn't there be more than this?
It owes a little nod to A Lightbulb's Lament by Grant Wamack, but that doesn't lessen anything Pedro has done here. And remember folks, he's done all this in a second language.
From it's benign beginnings at the front of the mall, to its cataclysmic climax beyond the realms of reality the whole thing was everything I hoped it would be when I stymied up my hard earned cash to buy it. I can honestly say, I enjoyed every minute of it.
Pedro, bem feito. Ele foi delicioso, bonito e surpreedente!
(I hope I got that last bit right)