To be read with: a straight shot of your choice of gin, followed by Excel gum, because you know… Minty Fresh.
I am an acknowledged newcomer to the circles of Christopher Moore fandom. For my birthday I requested that my family members send me their favourite books as gifts. This resulted in A Dirty Job coming through the post from my lovely sister-in-law Jenny. I had seen the book covers before and written them off as heavy-handed satire, quite literally judging a book by it’s cover. I must say, I am a changed woman.
To say that I am a diehard Vonnegut fan would be an understatement, but so it goes, and I have found a new kindred spirit in Christopher Moore. He employs the same model of hiding incredibly insightful world and philosophical views under a veil of sarcasm and wit. It will be the most unlikely plot imaginable and you will read the way that Moore phrases something and think to yourself, that describes humanity perfectly. Also in keeping with Vonnegut are the concepts of the vastly flawed hero, and the of creating universes between books.
Charlie Asher as a human is a huge mess, but he is also profoundly likeable. The story is about an everyday man dropped unwittingly into an extraordinary set of situations and a lot of the time he reacts exactly as I would. As Asher’s wife dies shortly after childbirth, he happens upon a Death Merchant reaping her soul. He then becomes a Death Merchant himself and has to balance being a single father, a small business owner, and apparently a harbinger of doom while navigating his Russian and Chinese nannies and still trying to find time to date. Moore pairs sweet with crass in a lovely way, and I was hooked from the very first pages. The book also exists as a love letter to San Francisco, taking you on a tour of the city’s brightest and darkest places. This is my first foray into Moore’s constructed universe, but I’m sure I’ll explore a little further.
Because the book covers are so distinct, I was approached many times while reading in public, with people telling me how much they enjoyed the book, asking if I liked it and had read others, or even just which part I was at. This is how I discovered that minor characters in this book overlap with other books and that Christopher Moore has created a verifiable universe of moving parts and characters. This is one of the many aspects I liked of reading Vonnegut- the feeling that a beloved character from another book you liked may show up at any point in time.
This book was witty, gory, and hugely enjoyable. I am glad to have been finally brought into the fold of Christopher Moore fiction. I can’t wait to read the new sequel to A Dirty Job and find out even more of my friends enjoy him as well.