So I’m at a pizza place, and I’m, like, having lunch by myself and the guy who’s showing me to my table looks at my book and curls his lips and goes, “Oh, nice title.”
And I’m all, “It’s a tender love story.”
He goes, “Right. You Suck. You Suck, it’s a love story.”
And I go, “Yeah, it’s about vampires.”
And he’s all, “Oh, yeah, I didn’t see the tiny fangs.”
I didn’t expect Christopher Moore to be such a conversation starter. I didn’t expect to find such a large pool of Christopher Moore fans where I work! I was down at the southernmost of the two buildings I work in, walking through one day, when two staff came up to me, smiling. Jay[i] said, “I hear you’re reading Christopher Moore.”
Dani chimed in. “Which one? Which one?”
“You Suck; a Love Story.”
Almost in unison; “Have you read Lamb? You have to read Lamb!”
Lamb, this being a gospel of the life of Jesus as told by his childhood friend, Biff.
“Uh, yeah,” I say. “I will; it’s on the list.”
“Oh—my—God!” says Tracy, at my other building. “You’re reading Christopher Moore!” She is a smoker. I see her on her break, sitting at the picnic table smoking, when I am going to, or coming back from, meetings. I see her a lot, is what I’m saying.
“Why, yes. Yes, I am.”
“Have you read The Stupidest Angel?”
I shake my head.
“You have to read The Stupidest Angel! I’ll bring it for you.”
And she does.
The Stupidest Angel, like many of Moore’s books, takes place in a fictional small town on the northern California coast, slightly south of San Francisco. It’s called Carmel—I mean, it’s called Pine Cove. The Stupidest Angel is a heart-warming story where a guy in a Santa Suit gets his head stoved in with a shovel along about Chapter Three. The sheriff is a reformed stoner who is growing an illegal pot patch in order to buy his wife, a former B-movie queen who played women warriors, a genuine samurai sword for Christmas. The wife, who is delusional, has gone off her anti-psychotics to save up enough money to buy her ex-stoner husband an exquisite dichrotic glass bong. Did you think I was joking when I said heart-warming? O Henry would never have thought of this one.
“Oh, are you reading Christopher Moore? Which one are you reading? I’m currently reading Island of the Sequined Love Nun.” This is Claire, tall, brunette and British. “If you’ve read You Suck, you absolutely must read Blood-Sucking Fiends. It’s the prequel.”
The first Christopher Moore book I read was Practical Demonkeeping, which was set in Pine Cove. I read it many years ago, maybe even when it first came out, and then lost track of the author for a long time. I picked up You Suck used, because the title caught my eye and it looked funny. I had no idea what I was getting into.
“Oh, are you reading Christopher Moore?” says Declan, who is a manager who reports to me. The book is next to my briefcase on my desk. “Well, the two you have to read are Lamb and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.”[ii]
Christopher Moore lives in or near San Francisco. In his author photos, his head is always cocked a little bit to one side. He is usually smiling; in the photo on The Stupidest Angel, he is wearing a Santa hat. There’s a slight wideness to his eyes, a fixity of his gaze, that makes you wonder if he knows more, first-hand, about being delusional that you might at first think.
Esteban, who works in my building but not for me, says, “Have you read A Dirty Job? It’s this really strange and funny book by a guy named Christopher Moore .”
So, are you reading Christopher Moore?
[i] People are real; names are not
[ii] This is fiction. He only recommended Lamb. I wanted to add another title.