Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christopher Moore's "A Dirty Job" - Matty Jacobson


This title tripped across my iPad on a random recommendation. I'd just finished Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" and sent a call out to my social network buddies.

What had my friends read that they thought I might also enjoy? One recommendation was for Andrew Davidson's "Gargoyle," which I'm still reading in between other books. I'll get back to you on that one.

The other came from my colleague who, despite having known me for less than a year, pegged me pretty well when she said I'd like Christopher Moore's "A Dirty Job."

"Job" is a modern-day fairy tale in the vein of the kind of fairy tales the Grimms and the Andersons actually told. (You know what I'm talking about -- Red Riding Hood gets ripped to shreds by a wolf, The Little Mermaid kills herself, a prince rapes a sleeping beauty -- not your Disney fluff.)

Charlie Asher is grieving over a recent loss and trying to run a second-hand shop all while simultaneously having to figure out how to raise a newborn daughter. He has help, of course, in the form of his lesbian sister Jane, who tends to steal Charlie's best suits; Ray, an employee of Charlie's and suspicious ex-cop (with a penchant for overseas dating websites); and Lily, another employee whose dark demeanor, dark dress and dark moods almost force you to cast Kristin Stewart in the role.

Whatever chaos he thought he was living is turned on its head when Charlie gets himself a new job: Death Merchant. You know, going around and collecting souls and whatnot.

The thing that makes stories like this really successful is the comedy. The utter ridiculousness of the situation demands a narrative addressing the fact. Moore does that perfectly through Charlie's eyes.

Unlike other "man becomes death" books like "On A Pale Horse," by Piers Anthony, which takes itself entirely too seriously, "Job" ladles comedic gravy all over the absurdist meal to make it entirely palatable with a desire for seconds.

And I have no idea what drove me to compare comedy to gravy. I think I might just be hungry.

So I'll go eat and leave you with this review for Christopher Moore's "A Dirty Job."

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