Kyle Bradford Jones’ HOSPITAL! (A Medical Satire of Unhealthy Proportions) is rooted in the kind of tongue-in-cheek humor that provokes endless grins. From the absurdity of the “[BLEEP]” marking each one of Dr. Camus’ potty-mouthed tirades to the deadpan narration, everything about HOSPITAL! seems wonderfully droll. Surprisingly, Camus’ unlikeability is counterbalanced by compassionate observations, giving the work added complexity, “Interestingly, he really only pushed to patronizing if someone spoke to him; he was too self-pitying to start the process on his own.”
The narrator’s tendency to break the fourth wall is equally intriguing, as it serves to inject more perspective into the tale, reducing the distance between the reader and the character on the page. All the while, dry humor tears through moments of discomfort, both racial and political, “And no one really understood why he assumed his looks were being attacked; his ugliness was a given.” What makes HOSPITAL! particularly appealing is its self-awareness. The text never takes itself too seriously, which is only accentuated by the narrator’s omniscience. By stressing the pretense of frivolity, the novel can give itself over to jubilant absurdism. And so, Dr. Camus faces both the threat of hypnosis and a covert nemesis, patients come and go with their made-up ailments, and the ambiguous Censor continues the tireless task of inserting the word “[BLEEP]” every other sentence.
It’s true that once a rhythm has been established, it can grow tiresome. Likewise, a stretched-out joke can seem incomplete; repetitive, even. Jones partly avoids this by baring the text’s meta-structure, “Suddenly, as we foreshadowed many-a-time in this story, and a trope so common we could not possibly leave it out of this tale, the Amazing Ralph collapsed.” Combined with the characters’ propensity for breaking all possible barriers (“What happened to you? (…) We haven’t seen you since the first chapter.”), the text takes on a self-devouring quality, allowing humor to keep flourishing.
In HOSPITAL! (A Medical Satire of Unhealthy Proportions), Kyle Bradford Jones draws on the absurdity of human character to craft a tale that is as good-humored as it is humorous.
~Neil Czeszejko for IndieReader