Cameron Gunn Hits Funny Bones
In the first paragraph of the prologue of his essay, Cameron Gunn asked his wife “If” he were an animal, what animal he would be, and “she hit me with sloth” … He added,”Surely she meant to say shark…or stallion.”
I knew. This book was going to be hilarious. That was before I read anyone’s review.
Gunn determined to test Ben Franklin’s thirteen virtues for himself and scribed his experimental thirteen weeks in Ben & Me From Temperance to Humility. He blamed his wife’s choice of animal identities on Ben Franklin.
Of course! Why not?
One of the nine reviewers suggested that we should not read Ben & Me on a plane, not because it would make me air sick. She said, “I spent most of the book, smiling, chuckling or laughing out loud. In fact, I am fairly certain that I annoyed the other passengers on my flight. But it was worth it.”
I did not take her advice. Instead, I listened to my friend, Jamie Beck who recommended that I should read it as soon as I could. Jamie can enthuse me, and her students, into doing almost anything. I bought the book and dug right in as the wheels of the plane left the ground.
Cameron Gunn has a fabulous vocabulary. He described himself as Thickening (waist) and Thinning (hair), both “T’s seem like harbingers of doom.” It’s good to read this book on Kindle. You can press words like “maw” if it doesn’t ring a bell and you can’t figure the word’s meaning from contextual clues like we teach elementary students to do.
Cameron Gunn had some false starts in Ben’s “program” of self-improvement using his thirteen virtues. Ben defined virtues as temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. I’ve listed them in case you want to experiment as well.
Channeling his “inner Sun Tzu,” Gunn promised an honest portrayal of his virtue-seeking journey. He exposed his failed attempts admitting to drunkenness instead of the desired temperance.
“Franklin abhorred sloth…I felt Franklin fixing me with his steely gaze across almost three hundred years of virtuous history. It was an inauspicious beginning…” Like Ben, Cameron Gunn developed a graph to chart his successes and failures. Black dots marked his transgressions as he marched through the virtue-seeking weeks.
Amazingly Amazon does not have Ben & Me ranked as high as I would rank it, ranging from a low of 1,191 to a high of 3,648.
Another recent plane travel book companion of mine, In a Dark, Dark Wood, ranked from 30-77 with 1,619 reviews, and it was not nearly as well written. And it was definitely not funny.
One reviewer got bored with Cameron Gunn veering off his self-improvement course. How do you could get bored when he shares important lessons he learned from his dog?
Write this down so you don’t forget it.
“If a dog vomits or has diarrhea outside the house repeatedly, it will almost certainly vomit or have diarrhea inside the house. … Once your vet bills pass $5,000, your vet will treat you very much like part of his family (without giving you a family discount).” And #8 “Never mock pet insurance.”
Out of nine reviews on Amazon, no one wrote more than three sentences. That’s funny because there is no plot to this book to hide. Yet, in a book with a plot and a surprise ending, reviewers seem driven to review the plot and include unavoidable clues to the ending.
There was no surprise ending in Ben and Me. It was just one funny story after another for thirteen lessons. The only thing people wrote was, “This was hilarious.”