A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
To me, the appeal of Douglas Adams was not so much the concepts of the universe he invented, but rather the way he described the universe he invented, like a ship hanging in the sky “in much the same way that a brick doesn’t.” P.G. Wodehouse, who served as inspiration to Adams and many other writers, was much the same way.
Christopher Moore does it now and again, and while his books are kind of silly with endings you can see coming a mile away, they are an enjoyable, addictive ride. A Dirty Job is another whimsical journey into the world of anthropomorphic Death. I say another, because it’s more or less been done similarly in Terry Pratchett’s Mort and other Death-themed DiscWorld novels. I’m sure there are others. Plot summary: Reluctant Pseudo-Death struggles to figure out How “It” All Works while trying not to Screw “It” Up.
While the subject matter may be well-trodden, it is still an enjoyable read. I wish I could find some of the choice turns-of-phrase, but they’re lost in the depths of the book. I really need to read with a pencil on hand to make notes in margins for these Book Logs.
|You scored as Buffy Summers, You are a very strong individual. You do, however, have some trouble admitting how you truly feel. You’ve experienced a lot during your life, but you more than manage. Always willing to help, you’re a great friend.
Rocketboy’s friend J__ is over.
RB: (pointing to a band-aid on J__’s cheek) What happened to your face?
J_: I hurt it. I have a band-aid.
RB: You know, you should clean it because otherwise the germs will come and your skin will fall off.
Nothing like idly checking your portfolio on a Monday morning and seeing it down 12%.
Deep breath, check the numbers in detail…
Okay. One stock split, and my portfolio tracker needs to be adjusted. Whew. Back up 10%.
And… for some reason I can’t figure out, Yahoo! finance has decided that the company Paxar (ticker PXR) no longer exists, and therefore doesn’t provide a quote, knocking a few percent off. TD Ameritrade provides a quote, as does the Motley Fool. Yahoo must have had a hiccup.
Whew. Back to normal.
Last week, I wrote a journal entry entitled Recommending recommendations, in which I recommended the McSweeney’s Recommends feed for your livejournal friends list.
This week, McSweeney’s Recommends recommends recommending things:
Sure, there’s a risk, the inevitable “Why the hell did you tell me to try that/see that/listen to that/drink that?—you must be some kind of idiot” response, but from our experience the rewards outweigh the risk.
I, for one, recommend you read McSweeney’s right now, lest we all die from meta-recommendation overdose.
ETA: Also, McSweeney’s is in financial trouble. So, if you’ve ever thought of purchasing some of their high quality literary (or otherwise) products, now is the perfect time to do so.
[ME is giving SCOUT a bath. Offstage, ROCKETBOY, 4 years old, is finishing his dinner in the main room.]
ROCKETBOY (Offstage): Daaaaaaadddy. Where are you?
ME: I’m in the bathroom giving your sister a bath.
RB: (we hear him running to the wrong bathroom) NO YOU’RE NOT!
ME: Your bathroom.
RB: (enters) I was scared that you were gone.
ME: It’s okay. I was here.
RB: I was scared because I needed more ketchup.
ME: Uh… okay. Well, you’ll need to get it, because I can’t leave your sister alone in the bathtub.
RB: Okay. Where is it?
ME: It’s in the refrigerator, in the door, on the bottom shelf.
(RB leaves the bathroom. We hear the refrigerator door opening and closing several times)
RB: (offstage) I can’t find the ketchup!
ME: Look in the door.
RB: What door?
ME: The refrigerator door. Not the freezer door.
RB: Which one is the freezer door?
ME: The one with the ice pops in it.
RB: (opens a door) There’s no ketchup. The ice pops are here. Can I have an ice pop?
ME: No, try the other door.
RB: (closing, opening) Where’s the ketchup?
ME: It’s in the door, on the shelf.
RB: What’s the shelf?
ME: The shelf. You know what a shelf is. Look on the bottom one.
RB: I can’t find the ketchup!
ME: It’s in a bottle. With… ketchup in it.
RB: Hey! Daddy! I found the ketchup! All by myself!
RB: (still offstage) Daaaddy! Where are you?
ME: I’m in the bathroom, giving your sister her bath.
RB: Well, I will watch my sister.
ME: Why do you need to watch your sister?
RB: Because I need you to get the ketchup out.
ME: Try squeezing it.
RB: I can’t find the ketchup.
ME: What? How did you lose a bottle of ketchup that fast?
RB: Oh! Here it is!
RB: I can’t get the ketchup out.
ME: Why don’t you bring the ketchup and your plate here, and I’ll get it for you?
RB: Oh! Good idea!
ME: Thanks. I’m a problem solver.
(there is a plastic-plate sounding crash offstage)
ME: Yes? What happened?
RB: I dropped my food.
ME: Okay. Well, pick it up. We’ll get you more when I’m done.
RB: I can’t.
ME: Why not?
RB: (appears in door carrying empty plate and glass of milk, but no ketchup bottle) Because Magic [the dog] is eating it.
ME: aaaaaand scene.
…I’ll be here in my cube… blowing my nose… constantly.
The Best American Essays 2006 Edited by Lauren Slater, Series Editor: Robert Atwan
A great collection… to start with.
Kinsey and Me by Laurie Abraham, about her visit to (and testing at) the Kinsey Institute prior to the release of the recent biopic1.
501 Minutes to Christ by Poe Pallantine, about a man’s search for a place in life.
Death of a Fish by Adam Gopnik, about the unintentionally philosophical backlash resulting from the death of a pet goldfish that is actually a betta.
Grammar Lessons by Michele Morano, an essay about grammar that has very little to do with grammar, and more the dissolution of a relationship. Very David Ivesish.
Lost Dog by Susan Orlean2, about the amazing search for a lost dog that actually happened here in Atlanta.
These are all in the first half of the book. The second half of the book has a much more melancholic feel to it… mostly about grief, loss, and illness. Perhaps Lauren Slater’s intention was to draw you in and then leave you wanting to slit your wrists. Hard to say. If so, I beat her, as I skimmed the last few essays.
1The most boring movie about sex ever made.
2I have read and recommend her book of essays, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.