Fans of openly gay stand-up comedian, Bob Smith will be delighted with his new book, Treehab. It’s filled with humorous stories and brilliant one-liners. Nevertheless, there is a dark shadow hanging over these dozen essays, because Mr. Smith reveals early on that he is suffering from ALS. While Mr. Smith is understandably angry about this diagnosis–“That abbreviation should stand for Asinine Life-Threatening Sickness according to me”–there isn’t a trace of bitterness in these pages. The net result is a celebration of the healing power of nature that is, at once, personal and universal.
Those who are familiar with Mr. Smith’s novel, Selfish and Perverse, will perhaps not be too surprised to learn that quite a few of these pages are devoted to Alaska. Mr. Smith spent a good deal of time there researching this novel and his descriptions of the state’s wildlife are lush, detailed–even seductive. And he finds gentle humor in the stereotype-defying gays and lesbians who live there. Treehab is also about what Mr. Smith learned from his rescue dog, the joys of hiking with his gay friends–“nature boys” he calls them–and more.
The last essay of the book, “At Walden with Henry”, is the best. In it, Mr. Smith imagines a conversation with Henry David Thoreau. His queering of Thoreau is humorous, but ultimately this piece becomes a passionate–almost militant–call to save our environment and our planet: a message that will resonate long after all of us are gone.
Of course, Queer Reader strongly recommends this book.
Bob Smith’s Treehab: Tales from My Natural Wild Life is published by University of Wisconsin Press.
Click here to read my 2009 interview with Bob Smith. Among other things he talks a lot about his love for Alaska.