Apologies to those who were waiting for me to wade in with my thoughts on November’s Book of the Month Club pick: Bloodsucking Fiends – A Love Story, by Christopher Moore. For some reason, I thought discussion on the novel wasn’t scheduled to begin until the week of the 15th. Fortunately, while I didn’t get around to reading the right sidebar of this blog which would have reminded me of the correct date, I DID read Bloodsucking Fiends.
And loved it. But I suppose it should come as no surprise. I picked up Moore’s Fool on a lark last month and was utterly delighted by the ribald and riotous retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear told from point of view of the king’s scurrilous but big-hearted fool. While reading the book on set, I had several crew members walk up and offer me some reading suggestions: “You should check out A Dirty Job” or “You’ve got to read The Gospel According to Biff” or “Once you’re done with that, you really need to pick up The Stupidest Angel“. Yes, yes, and yes. Soon after, I returned to my local bookstore and picked up the aforementioned titles – and more, including Bloodsucking Fiends. Since so many of you commented on Moore’s work, I thought I’d drop the author a quick email and ask him if he’d be interested in coming by for a short (and relatively painless) visit in support of his book. Chistopher Moore was kind enough to oblige and, well, here we are.
Did I mention I loved it? Which, now that I think of it, is a little surprising given the fact that between True Blood, Twilight, and the the myriad of variations thereof, I’m pretty damn vampired out. Lucky for me Bloodsucking Fiends, published back in 1995, offers a refreshingly different take on the subject. For starters, our main players are C. Thomas Flood, a hapless wanna-be writer struggling to adjust to his new life in the big city, and Jody, a neophyte vampire struggling to adjust to her new life as an undead being. The book upends the standard male vampire/lovesick female victim conceit with brilliant results. Jody is the strong heroine who must not only adjust to the challenges of vampirehood, but seek out answers to her supernatural state AND fight to safeguard the life of the mere mortal she loves. Flood is the weak and somewhat overwhelmed love interest, trying to make sense of the bizarre situation AND hold down a job at the local Safeway. It makes for a terrific dynamic, partly because it’s an inspired tack on a weathered chestnut, but mostly because the characters are so damn endearing.
Creating believable characters is tough; creating believable characters in a work of humor – particularly one as broad as this – is even tougher, yet Moore does a fine job here, not only with our protagonists but with the supporting players as well. The detectives, the gang at the Safeway, and the Emperor of San Francisco are all imbued with enough quirks and color to make them distinct and memorable, each and every one. And once you’re invested in the characters, you’re automatically invested in their individual stories. Here, again, Moore works his magic, crafting some spirited, poignant, and altogether satisfying journeys for all. Jody and Tommy assert their independence yet learn they needn’t be alone. The Safeway boys graduate from turkey bowling to vampire hunting. The Emperor of San Francisco affirms his magnificence – in the eyes of the reader at least.
Bloodsucking Fiends contains plenty of fun little twists, revelations and surprises including the means by which the threat of the “bad” vampire is dealt with at novel’s end. Even though it was set up, I didn’t see it coming. And yet even though the story draws to a close, it’s clearly not the end for our protagonists, Jody and Tommy, the unlikeliest of couples, who doubtless face one hell of an interesting future together. As the first installment in what I understand is a trilogy, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story manages to provide a comforting conclusion while simultaneously offering the suggestion of wonderful and wonderfully hilarious things to come.
Well, those are my initial thoughts on the book. What did everyone else think? Post away your comments and questions for author Christopher Moore. I’ll be gathering them up and sending them his way this weekend.
Oh, and what did you think of Stargate: Universe’s The Greater Good? It aired tonight on SyFy, y’know.
Of course you do.