Nov 09, 2020SLDESLIPPE rated this title 3.5 out of 5 stars
*WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
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.