29 May 2011

Book 20 of 2011

My wife and I decided to read while listening to last.fm, which allowed me to finish this on a very peaceful Memorial Day weekend.

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story

20) Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
Because meetings are often boring wastes of time, I usually try to take a book with me on the off-chance I might be able to get away with surreptitiously reading a few pages here or there.  A few coworkers gave me a People's Eyebrow when they saw the title of this book, assuming I somehow got roped into the recent young adult fiction craze that Stephenie Meyer has popularized so well. I immediately felt the need to defend myself with a short, "It was published in 1995!" While I only managed to will myself through about 80 pages of the first Twilight book before throwing it against the wall, it's clear that Christopher Moore's novel about a codependent woman thrust into the throes of vampirism and the arms of a naive young writer is not the standard Edward and Bella-style romance novel aimed at teen girls.

Instead, Moore takes a different approach to the vampire genre by not providing Jody, the redheaded sometimes-protagonist, with the usual guide through her change that accompanies most narratives of this sort. She fends for herself, takes some time to figure out exactly what's happened to her, and only has Tommy Flood, the aforementioned aspirational writer, to help her figure out the extent and limitations of her new powers. Flood is the other protagonist who is even more in the dark than his new girlfriend since he's a 20 year old fresh off the bus from Indiana. This allows Moore to play with the conventions of vampires while not necessarily forcing him to adhere to all of the established rules. The vampire bits are central to the plot, but the characters play the more important role by being both relatable and, in the case of the supporting ones, pretty hilarious. The Emperor, in particular, is a favorite of mine.

Plus, relating to C. Thomas Flood was fun since he picks San Francisco as his new locale because he's a big fan of the Beat generation and name drops both Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey. The Animals, whom Flood works with at the local Safeway grocery store, are reminiscent of a certain band of Merry Pranksters, too.

This is the fifth book by Christopher Moore that I've read. He's got a great comedic tone and it's easy to see that, while he doesn't always do so, he's capable of having a strong command over a character's voice. There are a few times where this feels like just another Moore-style book (a trait being, for instance, wacky characters being wacky for wackiness sakes), but, for the most part, he clearly defines each character well, and it's easy to tell without any indicators who is speaking. Moore is the kind of author who definitely improves with each book, so I'm eager to try out the two sequels that he's written.

Of the ones I've read by him, I'd put Bloodsucking Fiends just below Lamb in terms of quality. And he's not an author I'm abandoning any time soon.

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