BOOK REVIEW: "Beanum Infinitum - Book 1" by PB Gookenschleim
- Reviewed by S. Melton, Synchronized Chaos, Online International Magazine
The premise of "Beanum Infinitum" is a unique and fascinating idea - to explain the basic concepts of existentialism, with references to advanced physics and astronomy and a sprinkling of absurdist humor throughout - and all in the format of a whimsical childrens book. While some aspects of the total creation are flawed, those who take the time to read this unique piece of literature may find it to be "A Legume in the Rough".
A couple of things the reader will want to know before purchasing and/or reading this book on Amazon. First, while this story is in a 44-page childrens book format, it is not a book for young children. Or at least, not for children whose parents would mind reading the f-word occasionally interjected at somewhat random moments. Also, while the book is available as a self-published finished work via AuthorHouse, the author describes it as "more of a promotional issue", which explains the intermixed pencil drawings and hand-written side notes alongside the cleaner-formatted text and color illustrations. I would love to see this book re-imagined with a professional illustrator, for while the penciled-in doodles seemed to serve as more of a distraction than a descriptor of the story, you could also easily see what the author was portraying.
That being said, the premise itself was unique and engaging. A story within a story, an ancient storyteller spins the tale of Beanitrio, a tiny sentient pinto bean living on the planet Refry (in the Charro Way Galaxy - sensing a theme yet?), who is coming to terms with his own self-awareness and the world around him. His journey of discovery grew, as he discovered more each day about the world, the galaxy, the universe around him. His emotions ran wild with each new revelation, from joy and excitement to loneliness and desperation. Then, as the mysteries of "How" unfolded, the ever-looming question of "Why?" was revisited time and time again as he struggled to find his purpose and place in his strange and wondrous surroundings. On a personal level, it almost felt as if there were two people writing the book - like the majority was painstakingly penned by a learned, highly intelligent and introspective philosopher, but with a nine year old child with a head full of poo and fart jokes (the kind that said child is convinced will NEVER get old) looking over their shoulder and interjecting his/her two cents every so often. Sometimes this combination serves to add a little levity to an otherwise deep and intense existential dilemma - but more often it's an unwanted (by this reader, at least) detraction from the flow of the prose and substance that kept it truly interesting.
All in all, "Beanum Infinitum: Book 1" is definitely worth a look for those wanting to dip their toes into the realm of existential philosophy without any of the stuffiness or forced intellectualism that sometimes runs hand in hand with it. It's definitely among the more 'especial' tales out there, and leaves the reader wondering what situations could possibly be in store next when Book 2 hits the shelves.