Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fiction Review: A Dirty Job

Christopher Moore is known for writing funny and irreverent novels about strange topics, and A Dirty Job is no exception.

Charlie Asher is an average guy who loves his wife, Rachel, and is looking forward to the birth of his first child. Moore describes Charlie as a Beta Male: the sort of average, slightly neurotic, careful and steady guy who is always coming in second to the Alpha Males. Charlie owns and runs a second-hand store in San Francisco that his father left him. The story begins with the birth of his daughter, Sophie, and Charlie’s typical terrified Beta Male reaction as he drives the nurses crazy with his suspicion that Sophie was born with a tail because he’s sure he saw one on the sonogram:
“”You could have removed her tail in the delivery room, and we’d never know.” He didn’t know. He’d been asked to leave the delivery room, first by the ob-gyn and finally by Rachel. (“Him or me,” Rachel said. “One of us has to go.”)
In Rachel’s room, Charlie said: “If they removed her tail, I want it. She’ll want it when she gets older.”
“Sophie, your Papa isn’t really insane. He just hasn’t slept for a couple of days.”
“She’s looking at me,” Charlie said. “She’s looking at me like I blew her college money at the track and now she’s going to have to turn tricks to get her MBA.””

Soon, Charlie begins to notice strange things happening around him – giant ravens perched on buildings, eerie voices calling to him from the sewers, a strange man dressed in green that no one can see except Charlie, and people dying everywhere Charlie goes.

Charlie has been recruited for a new job he never wanted but can’t turn down: Death. Adventure and mayhem follow as Charlie tries to figure out exactly what his role is in this new job, while also bringing up and trying to protect Sophie.

Moore’s wacky sense of humor pervades the entire book, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that compel you to read sections out loud to whoever happens to be sitting near you. Best of all, A Dirty Job is populated with an unusual and very amusing cast of supporting characters, including the young Goth girl, Lily, who works in Charlie’s store; Charlie’s lesbian sister who is constantly borrowing his suits; and two older women – one from China and one from Russia – who help to take care of Sophie.

If sexual references and the “f” word offend you, you might want to steer clear of Moore’s book, but otherwise, A Dirty Job is a hilarious, silly, and oddly heart-warming book about the age-old battle of good versus evil, as fought by a Beta Male. I read this book for one of my book groups, and everyone enjoyed its light-hearted humor and original story (the people who listened to it said the audio version was great). After I finished it, my husband immediately started to read it because he had to find out what all my laughing was about!


  1. Love your review! I've been wanting to pick up a Christopher Moore for a while now.

  2. Thanks, Ashley -

    Two of my friends who enjoyed A Dirty Job just finished reading another Christopher Moore book, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. They loved that one, too!