A couple years ago I was at a book signing in Pennsylvania for Janet Evanovich’s (then) new book Sizzling Sixteen (completely unrelated, but an amusing talking point) and with the date of my departure from the country fast approaching I knew I would be in need of some new literature for the plane, so I turned to my companions and said “Suggest for me an author I’ve never heard of and I will buy one of their books”. Of the three of them, only one answered, and he did so quickly and happily “Christopher Moore. You have to try at least one of his books” and indeed he was right on two counts: I had never heard of Christopher Moore and (I wouldn’t know this until later, but it’s still true) I had to try at least one of his books. So, with the name burned into my head, I left the seemingly endless queue in which we were waiting (Ms. Evanovich entirely forgotten, and I swear, if you’re reading this, I will one day read one of your books) and headed off on my quest.
I came upon his name fairly quickly, and was saddened to see that the bookstore had only two of his books in stock. Well, briefly saddened, as it made my choice much easier. I bought them both and, a few exciting days later, began to dive into the first of my two purchases: Fluke, or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings. Four hours into my nine-and-a-half-hour flight, I was most of the way done, and by the time I landed back in Merry Old England I had a small handful of pages left to go (which I anxiously finished the moment I got home, as the drive back was very late and there was no light for me to read it by in the car) and I can only describe it as the most wonderfully random and hilariously intelligent reads I have ever experienced. At least, that was, until I started on the next.
Anyway, the point of this rather uninteresting look into my life is quite simply to highlight how quickly it became apparent that I needed this man in my life (may reword that later, may not, I’m not ashamed) and I became a solid fan very quickly, having engorged myself on a little over half of his work since then with the rest already piling up on my desk awaiting their turns, and what drives me to write this is one simply amazing fact I learned a few months ago that has me many different levels of excited: the first film-adaptation of one of Christopher Moore’s books is in the works and I cannot wait to see it! However, there is a slight problem, since my return I have discovered that Mr Moore is not very well known in these parts and I would like to be one of the people to help rectify this massive injustice! So below I will outline five of his books in the hopes that you will check them out, and perhaps suggest that a friend or two read them, and enjoy them as much as I have, and in turn bring about a bigger overall excitement for the upcoming release of The Stupidest Angel.
It would be remiss of me to not begin this with the very book that got me so hooked into this man’s writing, and I can’t really think of one I’ve read that so greatly shows his dedication to humour and intelligence in his work (also, the book’s protagonist shares my first name, and his latter is a nickname I had a few years back, in case you were interested). Fluke follows Marine Biologist Nate Quinn, whose mission in life is to decipher the mystery behind whale songs, until the day he happens to take a photograph of the strangest phenomenon never recorded in the history of Marine Biology: A whale with the words “Bite Me” written upon his tail. What begins as a baffling experience soon spirals into chaos as he begins to question his sanity, faces attempts to sabotage his work, and finally goes missing entirely, leaving his rag-tag group of research assistants and friends to seek the truth. I had never taken much interest in the field of Marine Biology before this book, but the depth of detail, and the ease in which Moore leads you through it, is both marvellous and brilliant, and the twists and turns of the mystery will leave you guessing (and almost always wrong) until the very end.
I have read this book every Christmas since I acquired it and think it is quite possibly the greatest Christmas story since A Christmas Carol (it is also the first of Moore’s books to be made into a film, as I previously mentioned). Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone, but for the residents of Pine Cove, CA, it’s about to get much heavier. Ex-B-Movie Scream-Queen Molly is finding it harder and harder to ignore the voices in her head, Pot-smoking cop Theo’s marijuana patch is under risk of being discovered by drug-squad-hired helicopter pilot Tucker (and his Ray-Ban wearing Giant Fruit Bat) and seven-year-old Josh has just seen Santa Clause beaten to death with a shovel. Oh, and the Archangel Raziel has come to town and is reviving the dead. This book really has it all, medieval-warrior-babes, murder, mystery and zombies. What better way can you possibly find to spend your time with the family this Christmas?
We all know the stories of Jesus’ life, his rise to prominence, the discovery of his miraculous powers and his messages of peace and love for all mankind, but there is one thing that the bible does not cover: Christ, the early years. Moore takes it upon himself to fill in the blanks with this by turns hilarious, touching and almost plausible missing Gospel the angels felt would be too “out-there” for the original print of the bible. Who better to tell the story of our Lord and Saviour than the man who grew up with him, saw him at his weakest and could always find a more fun use for Jesus’ abilities?
Before Stephanie Meyer changed the way we look at vampires (with distaste, and none of the previous enjoyment that Anne Rice provided us) there was this sadly unknown (here in England, at least) gem of vampire story. When Jody awakens one evening under and overturned dumpster in an alleyway, her arm burned and her sense heightened, she finds no help or concern from her selfish boyfriend Kurt concerning the days she has been missing, but a form of sustenance she didn’t remember requiring: blood. For reasons unknown and by persons un-introduced, Jody has been turned into a vampire and as such her life as she knew it is over, but a new one is just beginning. Quickly learning her limitations (no daylight, garlic is bad) she seeks help from would-be writer C. Thomas Flood, a man who has literally just rolled into town in a beat up Volvo Sedan before it promptly burned away, as a means of gathering what she needs to survive and eventually hunting down the person responsible for her “condition”. Fantastically original and unendingly amusing, this book is perfect for the avid vampire fan, and perhaps a good gate to reviving the enjoyment of those of you (like me) who have felt the vampire genre has been spoiled over the last decade.
Do you have any interest in American Indian folklore? Would you like some? Coyote Blue presents a world that most Brits would never have much connection to (beyond John Wayne movies and the latest Disney/Johnny Depp release) and tells the story of Samuel Hunter (Samson Hunts Alone to his friends and family back home on the Indian reservation in Montana) and how his carefully constructed new life as a successful insurance salesman is very quickly torn to pieces by the arrival of Coyote, the trickster god, who has come to Samuel to terrorize his neighbours, max out his credit cards, and threaten (by the means of good intentions) his possible new love life with the irreverent hippie Calliope. Like with Fluke, Coyote Blue will introduce you to a world of mystery and intrigue that has existed longer than the homeland the author hails from, filled with fascinating stories, old gods, and a giant man named Minty Fresh.
Written by Guest Writer Nathan Finch.