Friday , April 19 2024
Maybe that's why vampires are so funny, because reality can bite.

Book Review: Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore

Have you ever felt like your life should have come with a manual? Jody does, or a least she should have something that would help her deal with what's she's gone through in the past couple of days. She's broken up with her boyfriend, which has also left her homeless, lost her job, leaving her without a source of income, and had her car impounded.

To top it all off, she woke up and found herself lying underneath a dumpster with her hand burnt to a crisp. The plus side is she is somehow able to lift the dumpster off her, and whoever put it on top of her has also stuffed her blouse with about $100,000. The last thing she remembers is being attacked by some guy who not only bit her neck, but also made her drink blood from his arm.

Oh! Maybe there's an explanation as to how she was able lift the dumpster off so easily, and why the burn on her hand is healing so fast. The hand that was sticking out from under the dumpster all day as she lay with two tons of garbage and metal on top of her. The hand that was burnt because it was exposed to daylight: bite in the neck, blood sucking, and burning in daylight.

Isn't that just a great way to top off a shit week. She's now officially undead, a vampire, or as the title of Christopher Moore's 1995 book would put it. Jody has joined the ranks of the Bloodsucking Fiends. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for all the unexpected drawbacks.

The problem is the movies; they make it look so glamorous, fancy dress, beautiful people, sex, and blood sucking. They don't say anything about how you're supposed to get your car out of impound when they're only open during daylight hours and you have a tendency to combust in the sun.

And how are you supposed to find a place to live when they only show places in the day? It's all very dayist. You'd think San Francisco, of all places, would be a little more accommodating to alternative lifestyles, but even that most modern of cities still seems to be out of touch with the needs of the night stalkers. But then again that's why innocent dupes from places like Incontinence, Indiana were invented, weren't they? To become minions for the beautiful undead and do all their shit work. (The fact that Laundromats are open 24 hours is a real piss-off, especially if your minion figures it out, muttering something about bloodstains not being his fault)

C. Thomas Flood (Tommy to his friends, the C. is his pen name for when he is a famous author) has only been in San Francisco a week and has already received five marriage proposals, obtained a job, and had a beautiful redhead throw herself at him. The fact that the five proposals have come from illegal male Chinese immigrants who have heard that men marry men in San Francisco and are hoping Tommy will make them legal takes the shine off the proposals.

But the job is good even if it is working the night shift with a bunch of deranged lunatics who suck nitrous oxide from Reddi-Wip and bowl frozen turkeys in the notions section of the grocery store where they work restocking shelves and repairing the damage they cause. The beautiful redhead is a little confusing in her habits and her intentions until Jody tells him about her predilections.

Instead of being terrified as she worried, Tommy is enthralled. When he finds out she knows next to nothing about being a vampire he enlists the aid of the world's authors and devices a series of tests to figure out what is a true characteristic and what is false.

While the two young lovers are working out the intricacies of their new relationship (should you or should you not store the TV Dinners in the freezer with the corpse or why sucking the blood from live snapping turtles just doesn't cut it), the vampire who got Jody is still out there and terrorizing the city. Corpses with their necks broken, the blood drained from their bodies, and no discernible wounds have been showing up with increasing frequency.

With each murder more and more clues are point at Tommy as the culprit. Why, Jody, wonders is the other vampire trying to get Tommy arrested, or even worse come after him as a victim. What did her minion ever do to him anyway? Besides, she started to grow accustomed to him, and strange as she finds the whole idea, and is starting to fall in love with him.

With the cops closing in from one direction and the vampires from the other direction, Tommy has to rally the troops; the boys from the store, and a homeless man known as The Emperor of San Francisco, who along with his canine companions has been fighting the good fight against evil since first catching sight of the vampire. Tommy and his motley gang first must track down the enemy and when they do figure out what the hell they're going to do about it.

Christopher Moore writes the funniest horror stories on record. From The Lust Lizard Of Melancholy Cove to Practical Demonkeeping he has exposed the world to the lighter side of everything from demonic possession to the humour of monstrous man eating creatures. Now he gives us the silly side of blood sucking with his usual aplomb.

But what sets Moore apart from the usual run of the mill humour writer is he also has the remarkable ability to pull back from his humour and open the door to reality. In San Francisco of the mid-nineties, reality meant AIDS was still cresting and the wave was carrying people with it, indiscriminate of sexual orientation and gender.

Jody has qualms about killing; it just doesn't come natural to her yet, until she meets the first person who wants to die because of the pain he is in. She realizes she doesn't have to be a horrible bloodsucking fiend. She can ease the pain of others while keeping herself alive and well.

The amazing thing about Christopher Moore is not only his ability to tell a side-splitting funny story, but that he can bring genuine tears to your eyes without resorting to sentimentality. Letting a situation develop at its own steam and not trying to manipulate an audience is a delicate task. Humour and tragedy are the two faces of the human condition, and Christopher Moore is one of the few writers today who can wear either one with equal equanimity.

Read Bloodsucking Fiends for the sidesplitting, milk spitting through the nose laughs, but also be prepared to think and not escape from reality. Maybe that's why vampires are so funny, because reality can bite.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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