(Been a while, I know. Even with my avowed intentions to use this blog to talk about my experiences trying to become a published writer. I didn’t want to sound like I was kvetching — so instead, I haven’t been posting.
But I got this ARC of Christopher Moore’s newest novel, and I could not think of a better way to come back into my book reviews, at the very least. So here it is.)
by Christopher Moore
Trouble walked in, shaped like a dame.
Also shaped like a black mamba. (Though he didn’t walk in.)
Also shaped like an alien straight from the crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. (He didn’t walk in, either. Also might not be a he. I mean, probably not, really.)
Also shaped like the usual suspects from a Christopher Moore novel: smartasses and dumbasses, goons and gadflies, men in drag and women in drag and a venerated Chinese uncle who runs an opium den and has a most unfortunate nickname. (It sort of translates to “cat lover.” In a non-traditional sense.)
The trouble? Noir. In San Francisco, in 1947, and it all comes down on Sammy Two-Toes and his friends and allies, and enemies and victims, and especially on that rotten little foul-mouthed kid that keeps waking Sammy up.
Hate that kid.
But I love him, too. And I loved this book.
It is hilarious: I don’t know of anyone else since Douglas Adams who writes books that can make me laugh out loud, hard enough that I have to put the book down, but Christopher Moore can do it, and he has done it again; from the description of the manly scream on the first page, to the black mamba giving a raspberry to the guy he bit on one of the last pages (Not THE last page; the book ends with one of those wrap-ups describing how everything falls out for all of the characters, and no spoilers here –well, not big ones.), I laughed all the way through this book. There are some fantastic zingers, some absolutely glorious descriptions – my favorite is the one of the whorehouse madame in her tight green dress and flaming red hair described as looking “like a tube of red paint that someone squeezed hard in the middle,” because my God, that is just incredible – and some utterly delicious dialogue, particularly when the characters get into their snappy 1940’s noir patter, which I doubt that anyone writing today could do as well as Moore can. In the afterword, he describes his own book as a cross between Damon Runyan and Bugs Bunny, and I think that’s perfect, too. There is also some slapstick, some goofy sex jokes, a bit of gross humor, as there usually is; because that’s Christopher Moore, too.
And then there is the love story (Remember that dame who walked in and brought trouble? That’s the one). It is wonderfully sweet and romantic, and also a little sad; and for me it elevated this hilarious book into something that I would recommend to anyone who doesn’t mind a little filth in their fun; it’s not the whole plot, as of course there is the wacky story line that I will leave to be discovered, but there is also a Cannery Row sort of story about the boys, the ones who live right on the edge of the skids, but who hang on, mostly because they hang together; on some level this is their story, and it’s a good one. I was rooting for them the whole way. And once again, I don’t want to spoil anything – but at least one of these plot lines turns out all right, which made me walk away with a smile, even after the laughs stopped.
This is a great book. You should read it.