Title: Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees
Author: Michael Murphy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Anne Cain
Length: 196 pdf pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: This was a somewhat unusual yet very entertaining boy-meets-boy story teeming with funny one-liners.
The Blurb: Kyle Miller is a rare breed. Though born to conservative parents and raised in small-town Oklahoma, Kyle realized young that he had to escape rural America. Now he’s living in New York City, working as an ER doctor, and paying off his massive student loans. He’s never been on a plane and never seen a movie, but he is worldly enough to recognize attraction when it smacks him in the forehead. Not that he knows how he managed to crack heads with Joseph, who’s a good foot shorter than Kyle’s six and a half feet.
Joseph is Kyle’s polar opposite in other ways too, well-off where Kyle is poor, and self-assured while Kyle is insecure. He’s also determined to show Kyle what a great guy he is and bring the confidence Kyle shows in the ER out in his everyday life. But Kyle’s hectic work schedule and inexperience with relationships won’t make for an easy romance.
The review: This book is written in Joseph’s first person POV, and whether you like it or not will depend heavily on whether you can take to his voice, as he was certainly one of the most obtrusive, annoying, chatty narrators I’ve ever come across. He had a constant inner monologue running which, although generally centered around male body parts (his own and Kyle’s) and sex in general, tended to get a bit erratic at times. He’d persevere on some topic, turn it over and over and look at it from every thinkable angle and –wupps, he’d be somewhere else entirely, running in circles around his new item of interest, getting wound up in it until he’d have flogged it halfway to death and STILL not stop. Here’s an example from the very beginning, Joseph’s first encounter with Kyle in their gym’s locker room:
…Dicks. Loved the things. Loved ’em. Couldn’t get enough of them. What’s not to love? They were predictable in their design, consistent in their behavior. Oh yeah, loved those dicks. And then there was this one. Shudder. Was I having an orgasm? Oh, crap! No! Breathe!
Okay. You can do this! You’re gonna make it! Come on! I instructed myself with every ounce of self-control I could muster. But he just kept standing there, seemingly playing with his low-hanging balls as he talked. I mean, really! Who can talk presidential politics while prying their sweaty nuts away from their penis? Well, clearly this guy! That’s who! He seemed to be doing remarkably well at it. It was me who was having all kinds of problems. It was me who was one breath away from hyperventilating. It was me who was one hair away from dropping to my knees and wrapping my lips around the most delectable penis I’d ever seen. And remember, I was a professor of penis, a connoisseur of cock, a devotee of dick, an epicure of erections. I had made it my life’s work to worship the male member. And what a member this one was…
I apologize for this big chunk of quoted text, but I thought all of it necessary to give an example of Joseph’s tone of voice. Mind you, this quote is taken from what I can only call an ode to penises in general and Kyle’s dick in particular that took up most of the first chapter. At first, I was amused and then increasingly bemused as I followed the ramblings of a guy who was apparently so incredibly full of himself that he seemed to be unable to look beyond the tip of his own…well, dick, while we’re at it. The writing was fast-paced and quite funny, don’t get me wrong, but less could’ve been more here.
Actually, the latter goes for this book in general, it could’ve profited greatly from a tighter and less repetitive narrative, in my opinion, and not only in regard to Joseph’s inner monologue.
(One example that immediately comes to my mind is the description of a medical emergency Kyle, as an ER doctor, had to deal with in a later part of the book—as far as I can tell, the medical details were absolutely textbook correct, but that was also the problem I had with that chapter, as it read like a showcase for perfectly googled research.)
And what I mentioned in the summary review, the funny one-liners? Same here. I like some humor in my reading just as much as the next reader, but if one gag comes hot on the heels of the next, even the most sparkling wit loses its impact on me. Slapstick-like comedy isn’t exactly my thing, though others might very well feel differently.
Anyhow, back to the book. Thankfully, Joseph’s inner voice eased a bit over the course of the next few chapters, especially once the banter between him and Kyle really took off. Kyle may have had a restricted, bigoted upbringing, he may be inexperienced when it comes to sex and have overall low self-esteem, but he most certainly pulls off coy with the best of them.
I really liked how the two of them went about getting into each other’s pants, they were both so unapologetically and refreshingly carnal. And even though they only got it on at their second date, they didn’t wait out the whole butterflies and flowers thing either. Romance and emotions took a backseat to practicality, erotic compatibility and establishing a fast friendship that I could believe made a good base for a lasting relationship and eventually, love.
As much as I disliked Joseph initially, he grew on me over the course of the story, and Kyle was a great, likable guy right from the start anyway. I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I’d been apprehending going from its beginning, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to read a sweet though entirely un-mushy love story and can overlook excessively chatty flamboyancy in storytelling.