A Dirty Job

A Dirty Job

Book - 2006
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Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy. A little hapless, somewhat neurotic, sort of a hypochondriac. He's what's known as a Beta Male: the kind of fellow who makes his way through life by being careful and constant -- you know, the one who's always there to pick up the pieces when the girl gets dumped by the bigger/taller/stronger Alpha Male.

But Charlie's been lucky. He owns a building in the heart of San Francisco, and runs a secondhand store with the help of a couple of loyal, if marginally insane, employees. He's married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. And she, Rachel, is about to have their first child.

Yes, Charlie's doing okay for a Beta. That is, until the day his daughter, Sophie, is born. Just as Charlie -- exhausted from the birth -- turns to go home, he sees a strange man in mint-green golf wear at Rachel's hospital bedside, a man who claims that no one should be able to see him. But see him Charlie does, and from here on out, things get really weird. . . .

People start dropping dead around him, giant ravens perch on his building, and it seems that everywhere he goes, a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Strange names start appearing on his nightstand notepad, and before he knows it, those people end up dead, too. Yup, it seems that Charlie Asher has been recruited for a new job, an unpleasant but utterly necessary one: Death. It's a dirty job. But hey, somebody's gotta do it.

Christopher Moore, the man whose Lamb served up Jesus' "missing years" (with the funny parts left in), and whose Fluke found the deep humor in whale researchers' lives, now shines his comic light on the undiscovered country we all eventually explore -- death and dying -- and the results are hilarious, heartwarming, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2006.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060590277
Characteristics: 387 p. ; 24 cm.


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Nov 09, 2020


I have complicated feelings about Christopher Moore. On the one hand, this is the third of his books that I’ve read so clearly I’ve found something I enjoy. He is incredibly funny, which is one of the reasons I often reach for his books as a pick-me-up when I’m feeling down.

On the other hand, I feel that some of the jokes haven’t aged well. This book in particular includes a few slight jabs at marginalized populations that probably would have passed in the 1990s but in the 2020s feel a little mean. For instance, the only South-East Asian character in the book is known for putting dead pets in her food. The only Muslim character is understandably offended at the name of a dog and becomes irate and offensive, another character flirts with someone he met online until he realizes that the person he’s chatting with may be trans or non-binary. Finally, the main character’s abilities and behavior are partially attributed to the fact that he is is a self-proclaimed ‘beta-male’ which again, works in a John Hughes film but nowadays just feels more like whiny, “incel” humblebragging.

On the other, *other* hand (you see why I’m conflicted?), this book came out in the 1990s when non-PC humor was considered edgy and white, male, nerds were blissfully unaware of their privilege. If my thirty-something year old self could have somehow read this book when it was first released, I would have laughed uproariously. However, it’s not 1994. It’s 2020. The ‘it-was-a-different-time’ defense makes some decisions understandable but not necessarily excusable.

Dated humor aside, the book is still really funny. The underlying mythology that the author creates works pretty well and the book makes some surprisingly thoughtful insights on life, death and grieving. My only other gripe with the book is the climax, which really only makes sense if all the players involved took a bunch of stupid-pills right before going in to battle. The main character displays a newly acquired sense of ill-founded conviction that comes off as a little arrogant and ignorant. Important clues are completely ignored, and some critical decisions don’t make a lot of sense and could have ended with the destruction of the in-universe, world-as-we-the-reader know it, if not for a last-minute, unprovoked intervention from a character who really should have spoken up sooner. Lastly, for a book that’s largely a love letter to hospice workers, it kind of ends with some muddled takes on how and when to let go of someone you love.

If you’re looking for a laugh and are still able to watch movies like movies like Sixteen Candles or Revenge of the Nerds without regret then by all means, give this book a read. There’s a lot to like here, even if it probably shouldn’t be emulated.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jul 16, 2019

Christopher Moore is v. v. good at bringing the funny. I got a little fatigued by his ongoing use of the term "beta male" to describe the main character's behavioral tics and pseudo-inappropriate interactions with attractive women. My guess is that men who find themselves relating to the main character (or attracted to his quirkiness) will find this one more entertaining than I did. BTW, I did, legit, enjoy this book, just not that specific element!

Jul 18, 2018

You'll laugh like bear!

Jan 10, 2017

nice fast read, humor, a little pathos...entertaining...
Glad I found this author....

May 02, 2016

funny quick read. lots of one-liners and sexual references/scenes. Some deeper themes about death, etc.

Aug 30, 2014

A funny, sad book about coming to terms with Death (personified). I am occasionally offended by Moore's coarseness, but in general his witty and imaginative style makes up for it.

May 03, 2014

This is a funny story with lots of wicked jokes! It has a few cross-over characters with the Bloodsucking Fiends which is fun trying to follow! But not necessary.

Apr 17, 2013

This stands alone as a fun read but can also be considered an interval in the Bloodsucking Fiends trilogy between You Suck & Bite Me.

Jul 05, 2012

Upon friends recommendation I checked out this audio book. Was very different from anything I've read in the past, so was not too sure about it at first, but by the time it came to an end, I was totally in love with the story--had an absolutely wonderful ending!! Definitely listen on CD--very funny story with lots of laughs along the way.

eatlizzardsdaily Jun 20, 2012

At the Semi-Annual Used Book Sale at the Main Library Downtown, I picked up this title for .50 cents. I'd read Christopher Moore's "You Suck" and while it was entertaining I wasn't expecting a whole lot from "A Dirty Job." Holy twisted cheese doodle, was I wrong!!

Charlie Asher is an average "Beta-Male" who has the unlucky fortune of receiving the calling of "Death Merchant." He's basically a soul-reclaiming Repo Man. As people die their souls are stored into one of their treasured possessions and it's Charlie's job to reclaim these soul items from the family of the deceased .

This book was memorable because I laughed out loud the whole way through. Whether it was the Gothic employee Lily, with her charitable sexing; the squirrel people creatures in complete time-period costumes; or Sophie and her set of 400 lb. Hell Hounds; there were laughs to be had through all 384 pages.

There was a fair amount of sex, a lot of swearing and copious amounts of violence. Like I said, fun for the whole family!!

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Jun 05, 2008

Violence: This title contains Violence.

Jun 05, 2008

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

Jun 05, 2008

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.


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Dec 22, 2011

JessicaLynne thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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