More Trees to Climb is Ben Moor’s collection of three short works of fiction that he has performed as spoken word.
You’ve heard of office romances, but what if your office is a tree? The protagonist in Coelacanth, named after a deep sea fish who is unchanged over time, falls in love with a fellow tree climbing entertainer, so much so that he’s willing to donate his own eyeball to her when she suffers from an accident with a pointy branch. The story moves from being purely puns about trees to being about love, loss, and moving on. Despite the changes in his life–the death of his father, the loss of his relationship with the woman–his love for her remains, like the coelacanth fish, unchanged over time. Finally, we slip from the surreal into the fantastical as the ghost of his dead father inhabits a boy who is half tiger to send him a message of advice from beyond the grave.
Not Everything Is Significant
This is my favorite of the three. In this story, the protagonist receives a date book from the year to come with everything filled out–appointments, phone numbers, plans. But it’s written in his own handwriting, and the more the year wears on, the more he realizes that it’s word for word accurate. While there’s a lot of that Ben Moor cleverness that Stewart Lee seems to amiably groan at in the book’s introduction like “He’s a composer, a descendant of Handel–hasn’t inherited his talent, but the name opens doors,” Moor has played wonderfully with the structure of the piece. We are reading the autobiography of the protagonist, but we are also reading the footnotes that his roommate has made on a copy of the manuscript that he found lying around the house. The roommate happens to be a professional foot-noter. The story is dense with ideas, and as the title suggests, it’s hard to know what we should be paying attention to. Thankfully, the ending contains a twist that is a little open ended, rather than the run of the mill “Oh then he found a time machine and sent his diary back one year.” A definite recommend, especially for writers who like to play with words, structure, and layers.
A Supercollider for the Family
As a science nerd, I loved reading a travel story where the protagonist gets to go around interviewing people in order to find out the best way to create a small supercollider that can be sold to families for atom smashing at home. It even includes a trip to Cern. Like all of Moor’s stories, the science or science fiction is just the shell. It’s really a story about family–in this case, the protagonist’s wife who is attempting a tight-rope walk around the world.
In conclusion, this book was not as good as Ben Moor’s Each of Us, which was my favorite book read in 2015, but it’s still very thought-provoking and worth picking up a copy. You can buy one from Ben Moor’s website, and at the moment he’s taking requests for personalized autographs, and you may also receive a pin or two.