Thursday, October 6, 2011

Natanya Reviews A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

Title/Author: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins, 2006
Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: A friend of mine recommended it to me a couple years ago, and I’ve been meaning to read it since then

From Amazon (slightly modified):
For beta male Charlie Asher, proprietor of a shop in San Francisco, life and death meet in a maternity ward recovery room where his wife, Rachel, dies shortly after giving birth. Though security cameras catch nothing, Charlie swears he saw an impossibly tall black man in a mint green suit standing beside Rachel as she died. When objects in his store begin glowing, strangers drop dead before him and man-sized ravens start attacking him, Charlie figures something's up. Along comes Minty Fresh—the man in green—to enlighten him: turns out Charlie and Minty are Death Merchants, whose job (outlined in the Great Big Book of Death) is to gather up souls before the Forces of Darkness get to them. While Charlie's employees, Lily the Goth girl and Ray the ex-cop, mind the shop, and two enormous hellhounds babysit, Charlie attends to his dangerous soul-collecting duties, building toward a showdown with the underworld…

I read half of A Dirty Job while sitting outside a Starbucks, and after a while people started staring at me, likely because I was laughing my ass off. I haven’t laughed this hard while reading a book since…ever. While I wouldn’t say the entire book is hysterical—some of the jokes seem a little too forced, stupid, or offensive to be funny—the funniest parts are so funny that they make up for it. Really. Read the chapter where Charlie tries to get rid of the hellhounds and tell me you kept a straight face. (You won’t.) Even the chapter titles are funny: “Darkness Gets Uppity,” “Cry Havoc, and Let Slip the Gogs of War!” et cetera.

Charlie Asher is the most boring but most entertaining character ever. His reactions to his new “job” are priceless, and Moore’s narration of and commentary on Charlie’s thoughts and actions make them even better. This narrative commentary—in which Moore repeatedly explains why each of Charlie’s actions relate to his status as a “beta male”—is a great element of this novel, with these constant categorizations making Charlie seem even more pitiful, with his actions following the mold set out for him (but of course, they make him even funnier). Unfortunately, they do get a bit repetitive by later in the novel (yes, I know he’s a beta male, give me something new already!), but that didn’t do any serious damage to my opinion of the novel.

As for the plot, it’s bizarre, to say the least (and I’m pretty used to bizarre, thanks to Haruki Murakami). It’s kind of a mystery, where you spend a good chunk of the novel trying to figure out how different aspects of the plot are connected because so many random things are going on. But despite the randomness, I loved every new development. The role of Charlie’s daughter, Sophie, is fantastic. I love how she becomes such a crucial part of the story, but how laid back she is about all of the weird things that happen to her and Charlie—like when the hellhounds show up when she’s a baby, she calls them her “goggies” (doggies) and sits there whacking them on the heads with her toys. She’s a pretty minor character overall, but a great character.

One of the things that annoyed me was that time moves really quickly, and there aren’t any real indications of the passage of time until a while after it’s occurred, when Moore will mention Sophie’s age or what Lily’s up to. It’s just kind of awkward how much it jumps ahead, and I could have used a little more detail of what happened during the gaps.

But overall, A Dirty Job was a very fun, quick read. It can be pretty crude at times (and be prepared for an occasionally excessive amount of swearing), some things are over the top, and it certainly isn’t the deepest novel, but it’s just so damn funny and so riveting that I don’t really care. I can’t wait to read more of Moore’s novels (uh, no pun intended).

4.5 stars of awesomeness and humor

9 comments :

  1. I've read a few of Moore's works but not this one - yet! I always love funny chapter headings too, and I imagine author's have plenty of fun coming up with them. Great review!

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  2. I'm a big fan of all of Moore's books. I really enjoyed this one.

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  3. This was my first Christopher Moore book. I read it a few years ago and was laughing from the first chapter. I need to re-read it soon! Great review :)

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  4. All his books are like that. So funny! I listened to this one on audio and it was read by Fischer Steves (the dude from Hackers and Short Circuit). It was perfect.

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  5. Loved this one! You should definitely try out some of his others - they're all strange but hilarious!

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  6. Christopher Moore is one of my absolute favorite authors, and this was the first book of his that I read! My other favorite is LAMB, which is a "gospel" from the point of view of Jesus's best friend growing up -- in a hilarious, probably offensive way, lol. His others are just as funny though, I would recommend them for sure. :)

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  7. Yay, I'm so happy you enjoyed this! It's my 2nd favorite Christopher Moore novel (the 1st being Lamb) and it just cracks me up.

    I do agree with the time passing awkwardly too - it just jumps years all of the sudden.

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  8. Oh, this sounds excellent! I'm always up for a bit of a chortle. :)

    Thanks for the review.

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