From the Stacks: A Dirty Job

One of the hardest genres to write in has to be comedy. Humor is so subjective, it tends to be more miss than hit. Now throw out sarcasm, which doesn’t come across in the written word unless it clearly states something was said with sarcasm. An author might get away with that here and there, but I’d get pretty tired of continually reading, “he said with sarcasm” over and over again. I’m sure one day a sarcasm font will come into play, and I’ll dread the day. They’ll be books abound with whatever reversed italicized nonsense just to show an author can beat sarcasm to death.

Needless to say (though I already did) comedy has its limitations. Stating that, there are several authors that do it good. Christopher Moore, for me, leads the charge on that front. A Dirty Job, without a doubt, is one of the funniest books I’ve read. Most of Mr. Moore’s books are, but for me this is one of his best.

A Dirty Job follows beta-male (as opposed to alpha-male) Charlie Asher soon after the birth of his daughter and the coinciding death of his wife. As if this wasn’t enough of a burden to bear, he also gets handed the duty of a sole collector, or Death Merchant (as so coined in the book). If a sole isn’t properly collected, evil will rise and threaten the world. Charlie has to step up to his new role, facing sewer harpies, squirrel people and other nefarious things to protect not only his daughter, but the world at large. That’s quite a lot for a beta-male.

This book had me laughing out loud. Be forewarned. If you read in public, be prepared for strange looks as you snort and cackle. I still find myself using catch phrases from the book or comparing things to bears (read the book, you’ll understand).

If you become a fan of Christopher Moore and check out his other novels, you’ll notice that his characters tend to have cameo roles in other stories. I can place five characters in A Dirty Job that have appeared in other stories. Not to worry, you don’t need to know their other stories to understand this one. I think of it as Easter Eggs for Moore fans.

So if you plan on writing comedy, please do yourself a favor and read several of Christopher Moore’s books. It helps to read how someone does it right.

A Few Extras:

Moore’s take on the beta-male is hilarious. He even went as far as to create the Beta Male Manifesto in four parts on his website (1, 2, 3, 4).

You can also find the first chapter of A Dirty Job there as well.