Monday, April 17, 2006
"The Stupidest Angel: Version 2.0" By Christopher Moore
When I first picked up this book, I thought there might be negative repurcussions in reading a Christmas book in March. I mean, it's hard to get into the Christmas spirit when everything outside is the dreary grey-brown sludge of not-quite-winter and not-yet-spring.
However, I found it enjoyable, if a little silly - but then again, that's the point, is it not? Angels, Zombies, graveyard sex, lasagna, and donkeys with dicks like wiffle bats. They're all mentioned in here.
The Stupidest Angel takes place in Pine Cove, California, one of those ultra-cozy towns that thrive mostly on tourism and nothing else. The kooky inhabitants have their Christmas plans ruffled when an accident occurs, the titular dim-witted Heavenly messenger intervenes, and everything goes to Hell in a mistletoe-decorated handbasket.
Dale is the resident Scrooge of the town, a big, fat rich bastard who in any normal story would be visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Instead, his neck meets the pointy end of a shovel wielded by his ex-wife Lena. A seven-year-old boy witnesses the accidental murder, and as Dale is wearing a Santa suit, the boy mistakes him for the real deal and makes a wish that Santa would come back to life. Raziel, the angel, takes it literally but goes about doing it rather sloppily, as he's busy enjoying the wonders of Snickers bars and minimarshmellows.
Meanwhile, dysfunctional-but-still-functional couple Theo (the town's resident cop and former pot addict) and Molly (the town's resident crazy lady and former cult movie babe) are experiencing their own gift-of-the-Magi story: Theo, who gave up pot years ago on the condition that Molly stay on her meds, has started growing the stuff commercially in order to afford his wife a expensive Japanese sword to practice with. Molly, in the meantime, has given up her meds for the last month in order to afford her Christmas present to Theo - a hand-crafted glass bong. Their frustration with each other has Theo go back to smoking pot on the job and Molly to confusing herself with her on-screen persona the Warrior Babe. Sure, their troubles are exaggerated, but Christopher Moore does a good job of giving them a very affectionate, if off-kilter, relationship.
Add to that problem zombies, a handsome stranger with a talking Micronesian fruit bat who wears miniature Ray-Bans sunglasses, an elderly nymphmaniac bartender who mixes booze and prescription drugs into her Yuletide fruitcake, and a heartbroken biologist attempting to program himself to resist lust by attaching electrodes to his genitals, and you have a crazy, funny, and very quick read.
Christopher Moore packs it in with a lot of humour, much of it very obvious and slapstick-y, but with a few subtle zingers that came in from under the radar. The ending was a little unsatisfying, and the additional "extra" chapter added in the "2.0 Version" is a rather pointless escapade involving a very drunk Lena being threatened by a bumbling serial killer, but otherwise, it's an entertaining read that doesn't require one to think to much in order to enjoy it.