Moore Humor: A review of A Dirty Job
Somewhere between Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys and the creators of a grievously short-lived show “Dead Like Me” lies Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job.
The writing instantly established that it will try too hard to be funny by employing that British trick of using many more words than is necessary. The style does eventually grow on you and evoke that laughter that isn’t “out loud”, but does lighten up an otherwise grim and rainy morning.
Incongruous phrasing–where dry humor meets it’s toilet counterpart–with some occult mystery (however predictable) is what makes this book an enjoyable read. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a page turner, but an innocuous protagonist (Charlie Asher, who is seriously reminiscent of Charlie Nancy of Gaiman’s Anansi Boys) battling demons who reside in sewers and whisper tantalizing threats until confronted with the modern evils of firecrackers and automobiles is pretty damn amusing.
If that doesn’t get you, there is lots and lots of sexual innuendoes, such as an inordinate amount of attention to the male anatomy and a small child spending some time skipping around and innocently singing “not in the butt.” Still not funny? What about ethnic humor then? Nothing particularly offensive, but we all know that little Chinese ladies will cook anything while large intimidating Russian women can’t stop comparing absolutely everything to bears.
Then there is a cartload of quirky characters, such as the most beloved ( although actually long dead and already made famous by Gaiman in The Sandman) Emperor of San Francisco, several vaguely incompetent Beta Male Death Merchants, police officers who really can’t handle much more weird, and female siblings who steal all your suits just as you get them tailored to fit you.
The before unheard of history and habits of the Beta Male, the most ubiquitous underdog, is perhaps the most prominent achievement of the book which also includes a guide of San Francisco, with a few fictitious additions to help the plot along, and, of course, another theory on what happens after death. Finally, there are numerous references to cult comedy and Gothic poetry.
And that just about covers everyone’s tastes. The book is a conglomeration of glee without being particularly profound, much like every other book I have read by this author.
Publisher: William Morrow (March 21, 2006)
Hardcover: 400 pages
A Dirty Job: A Novel available at Amazon.com