Friday, October 20, 2006

BCOO: A Dirty Job

I know - the acronym doesn't work very well. But I was annoying myself by my repetition of the 'too cute' Book Club of One. BCOO - talk about too cute. But here it is. And I'm sticking with it. For now, anyway.

So this particular BCOO is about A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore. For any of you planning to read the book, while I don't think I give too much away, I do give a brief summary with no actual details as to how things end up. Just a little warning.

I discovered Moore when I was visiting Jason in New Hampshire. The first book I read of his was Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, which is still my favorite. Lately I've been enjoying him less, which is perplexing.

A Dirty Job is about a man who, shortly after his wife's death, discovers that he is what the book comes to refer to as a Death Merchant. Basically, Charlie can see red glowing auras around certain objects: necklaces, CDs, umbrellas, a fur coat, etc. These are 'soul vessels' which Charlie must obtain after a person has died. Charlie then puts the item up for sale in his shop and the vessels transfer to a new person who does not yet have a soul.

That's the jist. There's a lot more actual plot, but that's the premise. If Charlie (and the other Death Merchants) do not obtain the soul vessel, bad things happen.

I enjoyed the book, but I found a lot of holes in the plot and characters. I don't know if I've changed or Moore's writing has. (Jason says it's me.) Moore's novels are comic and fun, and I love that. But sometimes the comedy seems forced. It seems to take away from the novel. Some of the characters, for example, will come out with something extremely funny. Yet it feels out of place for that particular character or for that particular time. I guess my main beef is that it takes me out of the reality of the story and puts me at a distance. I can hear the author there. And I don't want to. That's it: it doesn't seem realistic at those moments.

Mind you, this is a book with fantastical elements. Hell, what am I dancing around? It's a book that belongs firmly in the fantasy genre. But the reason I love Harry Potter (the only other pure fantasy novel I've read) is because it all seems so real. I love that. I don't want to be reminded that I'm reading a novel.

While I'm looking for a quote to back myself up, however, I keep finding some great lines:

"It's okay, Ray. But I really have to go. You know, fighting the Forces of Darkness and all." Charlie held his cane out as if it were a sword and he was charging into action, which, bizarrely, it was and he was.

Everyone is happier if they have someone to look down on, as well as s
omeone to look up to, especially if they resent both. This is not only the Beta Male strategy for survival, but the basis for capitalism, democracy, and most religions.
Well, there you go. Not a glowing recommendation, but a fun, effortless read nonetheless. That's definitely not a negative. I like fun reads. If you have some spare time and want some laughs and some not-so-hidden pathos, have at it. But make sure you read Lamb as well.

Next up: a Japanese novelist's take on cloning, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro.


jmixont said...

Pay no attention. A Dirty Job is a lot of fun. Original story, original humor, one of the most startlingly original back alley sex scenes ... this book has it all. I will admit that none of his books quite live up to Lamb, but they're still a whole lot of fun. Amanda's trapped in her character study stories. She sometimes forgets that a fun and fantastic romp through the streets of San Francisco with fun and fantastic characters is just supposed to be fun and fantastic.

Oh, and her next Japanese author? Yeah, he's British!

Amanda said...

To each his own, little lamb. But I made sure to include the fact that this novel was 'fun'. I just didn't have as much fun as I wanted to.

So Jason beat me to the punch - I was going to update my "Japanese" author thing. He lives in London. However, that doesn't make him 'not' Japanese. He's just a Japanese guy living in London.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter. The story is set in England. It's got English characters. It reads like an English novel. So there you go.

If Jason feels self conscious about the books he enjoys and feels the need to make me feel badly because I wrote my honest reaction, that's fine by me. Like my passive aggressive comeback? How about just aggressive - Yeah! Suck it, bitch!