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A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
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A Dirty Job (2006)

by Christopher Moore

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Collecting souls after death is a dirty job but someone has to do it; that's the premise to Christopher Moore's current book, A Dirty Job. Most of these agents of Death (or Death Merchants) are antique dealers or junk shop owners like the protagonist, Charlie Asher. Every city has its own team of independently operating Death Merchants, each working from the "Big Book of Death" and the story focuses on a select few who live and work in present day San Francisco.

For fans of Moore's writing, A Dirty Job revises characters from Blood Sucking Fiends and Coyote Blue. While the book can stand alone, I was grateful to have recently read the other two books and see these characters come together under such unusual circumstances. People who have not read any previous Moore should still read A Dirty Job as he does a fine job of making sure the story stands on its own. All the back story one needs is provided.

After finishing the book, read the acknowledgements. In them Moore explains the inspiration for the story, namely the deaths of a dear friend and two mothers. Taking what he experienced in the hospice he put his own supernatural spin and sense of humor to work to create a book that both celebrates life (and death) and pokes fun at the whole process.

He returns to San Francisco for this story and in many ways it is a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends but one that plays out with some of the minor characters. M. F. has also moved to town and fans of Coyote Blue will enjoy what his character brings to the story. Best of all Moore took the time to capture San Francisco's personality which he failed at doing in Bloodsucking Fiends. He does it in getting the little things right, like the fog that always manages to roll out in October, the absurdity of a seven mile per hour cable car chase, and the odd ex-suburb that is the Sunset District. ( )
  pussreboots | Feb 1, 2015 |
Più Monty Python che Neil Gaiman, Moore fa sorridere ma stupisce meno che non con il suo Biff. Alcune trovate sono tirate per i capelli e la scrittura vuole essere in molti punti un po’ troppo “simpatica”, ottenendo un effetto stucchevole. Rimane comunque una piacevole e rilassante lettura, con due o tre cose interessanti sul bardo thodol. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Overall..Good. Moore is a hilarious author. The concept of this book was great. The ending no matter how sad was still really funny and heart warming, even if you saw it coming a mile away! I enjoyed this one! Make this one a must read! ( )
  Samantha.Ann | Aug 20, 2014 |
After the birth of his daughter, Charlie Asher, mild-mannered Beta Male, finds his life upended--and not just because he's become a new father. Through a strange course of events, he finds that he has been selected to be a Death Merchant, harvesting the souls of the dead and helping them on their journey to transcendence. The job, unfortunately, comes with a shit-ton of problems, such as being suspected of murder; hellhounds unexpectedly manifesting in his home; sewer harpies taunting him at every turn, encounters with an army of small, nattily dressed chimera; the perpetual threat of the Forces of Darkness rising if he fails; and the disconcerting knowledge that his daughter can kill by simply pointing and uttering that most powerful and fear inducing of words: "kitty." Plus, "Hi, I'm Death. With the big 'D'" doesn't really work as a pick-up line with the ladies. He's got ninety-nine problems, but a bitch ain't one.

His guide to his new lifestyle is The Great Big Book of Death, which really isn't that big. Or informative. Really it's just a lot of cartoonish pictures with such helpful tips as "In order to hold off the Forces of Darkness, you will need a number two pencil and a calendar." Death shops at Staples. Sucks to be Charlie.

There are a lot of words that I could throw around about Moore's writing: zany, wacky, demented, hilarious. But let's go ahead and toss "poignant" on the list. Trust me, everything you expect from a Moore novel is here, but one of the things I admire about his stories is that, for all the strangeness getting stranger, there's a well-spring of compassion and respect for humanity in his work that can surface when you least expect it. It should be no surprise that people die in a book about death, but what may catch many off guard is the genuine respect Moore demonstrates for the passing of a human life and a keen understanding that "Most of us don't live our lives with one, integrated self that meets the world, we're a whole bunch of selves. When someone dies, they all integrate into the soul--the essence of who we are, beyond the different faces we wear throughout our lives." Moments like this are what elevate Moore's work above pure screwball comedic writing. He has a keen understanding that life is absurdity and that humor is the best coping mechanism we have. ( )
1 vote snat | May 28, 2014 |
After reading LAMB, I wanted more or Moore. I got it in A DIRTY JOB. I LOVED this book. I laughed out loud while riding the train to work and YES, that was while I lived in San Francisco.

If you love quick whit and dark comedy, you have to read this book. Mr. Moore takes you all over San Francisco with excitement and laughter. ( )
  BubbaPat | May 11, 2014 |
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Epigraph
What you seek, you shall never find. / For when the Gods made man, / They kept immortality for themselves. / Fill your belly. / Day and night make merry, / Let Days be full of joy, / Love the child that holds your hand. / Let your wife delight in your embrace, / For these alone are the concerns of man. -- The Epic of Gilgamesh
Dedication
This book is dedicated to Patricia Moss, who was as generous in sharing her death as she was in sharing her life.

and

To hospice workers and volunteers all over the world.
First words
Charlie Asher walked the earth like an ant walks on the surface of water, as if the slightest misstep might send him plummeting through the surface to be sucked to the depths below.
Quotations
"I don't even want to make her eat her green beans for fear she'll KITTY me."
"I'm sure you have some kind of immunity."
"The Great Big Book says that we're not immune to death ourselves. I'd say the next time a kitten comes on the Discovery Channel my sister could be picking out caskets."
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The story centers on Charlie Asher, a "beta-male" (as opposed to "alpha-male") who leads a satisfying life as the owner and proprietor of a second-hand store in San Francisco. At the moment when his wife Rachel unexpectedly dies in the hospital shortly after the birth of their first child (Sophie), Charlie becomes involved in a new sideline of retrieving the souls of the dying, so as to protect them from the forces of the underworld. He only gradually realizes the ramifications of this business as various clues and complications unfold. Ultimately Charlie resolves to confront directly the forces of darkness.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060590289, Paperback)

Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy with a normal life, married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. They're even about to have their first child. Yes, Charlie's doing okay—until people start dropping dead around him, and everywhere he goes a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Charlie Asher, it seems, has been recruited for a new position: as Death.

It's a dirty job. But, hey! Somebody's gotta do it.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:20 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Charlie Asher, a neurotic and anxious hypochondriac who hates change, confronts the challenges of being a widower and a single parent when his wife dies of a freak medical condition on the day his new daughter, Sophie, is born.

» see all 3 descriptions

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