Desert Isle Keeper
Here’s how good Bloodsucking Fiends is: I was reading passages out loud to a friend on a long bus trip when I realized that at least three rows of people around us had been silent for the last 40 miles, apparently listening in. I got embarrassed and drifted off (who was I to inflict my story choice on them?) and the Hell’s Angel-looking guy diagonally across from us said: “Naw, keep reading! That is one weird book, but it’s funny as hell, man.” I kept reading until we got to Portland.
Christopher Moore is one of the hippest, funniest voices in popular fiction, and Bloodsucking Fiends is my favorite of his books. Jody, an ordinary insurance clerk in San Francisco, is attacked and turned into a vampire by an ancient fiend with unknown motives. She loses her boyfriend and gives up her job, then picks up C. Thomas Flood, a young aspiring writer who’s just landed in San Francisco and manages the night shift at Safeway, to help her with daytime chores. There’s a marvelous cast of secondary characters, including the homeless Emperor of San Francisco and his two dogs Bummer and Lazarus; Simon and The Animals, the night-shift crew at Tommy’s Safeway; five guys named Wong who keep proposing marriage to Tommy, and Madame Natasha, a drag queen fortune-teller dying of AIDS whose prediction for every situation is “You’re f–ked.”
The ancient vampire is apparently killing people and planting the drained bodies near Jody – Tommy, the Emperor, and the Animals are on the case. Jody is kept busy exploring her powers and her fledgling relationship with Tommy, who thinks that dating a vampire is incredibly cool but is disappointed that Jody missed the orientation lecture that people always get in vampire books.
Christopher Moore is simply the greatest writer of visual humor I have ever read. It would be redundant to turn any of his books into movies; I can see every scene playing out on the silver screen of my mind’s eye. There’s hardly a page that doesn’t have a laugh-out-loud description. Here’s my favorite moment (the Hell’s Angel liked it too), a sample magazine quiz called “Can He Tell He’s A Lousy Lay?”
You decide to do the dread deed, and just as things are starting to get hot he comes, rolls over, and asks, “Was it good for you?” You:
A. Say, “God, yes! That was the best seventeen seconds of my life!”
B. Say, “Sure, as good as it gets for me with a man.”
C. Put a Certs in your navel and say, “That’s for you, Mr. Bunnyman. You can have it on your way back up, after the job is finished.”
D. Smile and throw his car keys out the window.
After fumbling in the dark, he thinks he’s found the spot. When you tell him that’s not it, he forges ahead anyway. You:
A. Grab the lamp off the nightstand and beat him with it until he gets off you.
B. Grab the lamp off the nightstand and beat him to death with it.
C. Grab the lamp off the nightstand, turn it on, and say, “Would you look where you’re at?”
D. Wait patiently until he finishes, wishing the whole time that you had a lamp on your nightstand.
Obviously, the sensibilities are very different from a typical romance novel – Jody and Tommy both consider cheating on each other, and there’s a more casual attitude towards drug use and sex than the romance genre permits. This is not a heavy-hitting blood-and-guts paranormal, nor is it a parody, but I think paranormal fans will have a great time with Bloodsucking Fiends, as would any comedy fans. If you enjoy the humor in books like Helen Fieldings’ Bridget Jones’ Diary and Marian Keyes’s Watermelon, I highly recommend giving Christopher Moore a try.