Christopher Moore is, without a doubt, one of my favourite authors. After reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, (how's that for a catchy title?) I knew this was a dude I was going to like. I moved on to Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art, and I was hooked.
After enjoying those two novels immensely, I decided to go back to the beginning, to Moore's debut novel Practical Demonkeeping (originally published in 1992).
Moore's style in general is irreverent and sarcastic and clever, and every other adjective that describes the things I find funny. He mixes real world situations and characters with the impossible, mythical, and magical. You have to be able to suspend belief for a while in order to enjoy his stuff. I, personally, have no problem doing so.
In Practical Demonkeeping, Moore tells the story of Travis, a former seminary student, who accidentally winds up the immortal master of a demon named Catch, over whom he has minimal control. Essentially, Catch must eat (humans), and Travis tries to steer him towards those that society won't miss. Sort of a Dexter-style approach, I suppose.
The story keeps you hooked as you're itching to find out the backstory for this odd couple, and Moore weaves a few little bits into the story that you're eager to see wrapped up and explained.
Overall, I suppose the theme would be... oh I dunno... maybe good versus evil? Stepping up to do what's right? There are a few characters who are dragged into the mess created by Catch and Travis' "relationship." These people have nothing to do with anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and have to risk a hell of a lot to try to stop some crazy shit from going down in their small, peaceful town. I won't say more because spoilers suck.
There are some substance abuse issues tackled very lightly, and one character, Robert, watches his life go down the shitter and has the revelation that maybe it's time to straighten up and right a few wrongs. Another character, Augustus Brine, is pulled into the insanity and does some deep thinking about what he's doing with his life and if his fate is to do more. Travis, the titular demonkeeper, never asked to be the master of a nightmarish man-eating lizard and has spent his life trying to minimize the damage caused and send the hellspawn back from whence it came. So maybe this means Moore was trying to make a statement on personal destiny. Who knows? All that's for sure is that it's entertaining.
The only negative I could find was the lack of serious character development, meaning there weren't any characters I felt a connection to, but I can also concede that this wasn't Moore's intention. He's a storyteller above all, and his novels are a nice reprieve from those that delve too deeply into the human condition and try to analyze every thought and action of a character. Sometimes it's nice to just get on with the story!
Moore can also turn a phrase like nobody's business. Here are some memorable moments:
“I've seen more intelligence in the crotch lice of harem whores.”
“May the IRS find that you deduct your pet sheep as an entertainment expense.”
“The netherworld is timeless and unchanging, and boring -- much like a doctor's waiting room.”
I'm in love with Christopher Moore's style and would recommend that anyone who isn't too sensitive about religion begin their Moore-Quest with Lamb. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll see Jesus (aka Josh) in a whole new light.
Join the Quirky Canuck book club! This week I'm reading The Girl On The Train because when I jump on a bandwagon, I like to do it VEEEERY late. Read it with me this week and I'll post a book report next week, then we can discuss.