Monday, April 18, 2011

Saying "rawr" is not a vampyre thing

I spent this weekend visiting my mom, which meant I had lots of train time to catch up on reading. Before I get into a book, I would like to make a request to both the LIRR and NJ Transit to put up a sign or something telling you which direction the train is going to go. I'm always convinced I've picked the right way, until the train starts moving and I'm going backwards. I need to also learn that if I'm positive I'm facing the right direction I need to get up and switch seats, because I'm never right. Anyway, the book.

I just finished Christopher Moore's Bite Me: A Love Story, the third part of his vampire trilogy, consisting of  Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck. The city of San Francisco is in danger again, this time from a giant vampire cat named Chet that is taking down the homeless and the hookers. We have the same cast of characters from the previous books trying to clean up the mess: Jody and Tommy (lover vampires); Abby Normal, Foo Dog and Jared (Goth high schooler and minion to J&T, her "manga-haired loved monkey" and best friend); the Emperor and his brave men (a golden retriever and Boston terrier); the stoner Animals; and detectives Rivera and Cavuto. We also have a couple new characters: an elderly samurai print-maker, a set of ancient vampires come to clean up the mess Elijah (he who turned Jody and Chet) left; and their Renfield Kona, a white Hawaiian Rastafarian making an appearance after showing up in Moore's Fluke or I Know Why The Winged Whale Sings.

Abby Normal is one of my favorite characters and Moore has her narrate that majority of Bite Me via her blog entries, which she totally has to keep up to date so she doesn't leave her fans (1 subscriber) waiting. I know I couldn't stand being in the same room as her if she were a real person, but as a character she is fantastic. I love reading how she describes a scene, a conversation, anything really. I know I included a few lines from her in my last Moore post, but she deserves another example:
And Flood's like, "You don't have any confrontation issues, do you?" And I'm all, "No, I'm very insecure actually, but I have found that if you roll up screaming like a madwoman, hair on fire, guns blazing, no one is going to mention the zit on your forehead." Which is totally true. (224) 
I think, out of the three books, this is my least favorite. I love the characters and still found this to be a great and hilarious read, but the plot itself felt a bit weak and rushed. There are pretty much the same amount of characters as the previous installments, but since each group seemed to be doing their own thing so there was less time for each plot line. There's so much going on that you kind of get whip-lash following the story around. That said, this book does contain a few of my favorite scenes from the series that are so touching they remind me that Moore's tone doesn't always have to be this absurd, mad-cap humor.

*This part is kind of spoiler-y, so heads up*
Jody was caught at outside at sun-up and unlike Meyer's creations, these vampires fry in sunlight. She was saved by Katusumi Okata, Samurai of Jackson Street, who had previously shown up to save the Emperor and his men from destruction from the demon kitties. He is an elderly artist, a print-maker that has lived in a basement apartment in Chinatown for years, though he never learned English or Cantonese. He pulls Jody into his dark apartment before the sun can reduce her to ash and feeds her his blood to help her heal. In all of the excitement and action that take place on the other pages, these scenes are an island of silence and calm. There's less humor here and more both kindness and sadness as Jody slowly heals and Okata quietly sketches her. Their scenes alone almost make up for some of the weaknesses elsewhere in the book.
*Spoilers contained. You're safe now*

I know I've rambled a bit, but I do have one other thing to mention. I've said on a couple occasions that I hate eye-dialect, which is when an author writes out phonetically how a character sounds. It's usually too difficult to understand so instead of being more fully immersed in the story by now hearing what the character should sound like, I'm completely taken out of the moment trying to figure out what the hell is being said. Moore manages to create a dialect I can understand. It's not nearly as impenetrable as what you can find in Shaw's Pygmalion which is probably why I can read what Kona is saying and understand him, at least as well as the other characters. Here's some of his speech: "Oh, Jah's sweet love sistah, dat smoky biscuit givin' me da rippin' stiffy like dis fellah need to poke squid with that silver sistah on de Roll-Royce, don't you know?" (203).* From this I feel like I have an idea what a white Rastafarian with a bad Hawaiian accent might sound like and thus have a richer understand of the story. Or at least I can laugh at someone actually talking like that, especially when the other characters have such trouble understanding what the hell he's talking about.

I didn't mean to read quite so much Moore at once, but I had to finish the trilogy. I can't say I'm disappointed or upset with this latest book, I just know Moore can do better. But I'd still recommend this one if you've read the rest of the series. It's an entertaining read and contains the absurdities you can come to expect in his writing.

*Context does help so if you're curious what he said, know that one of the vampires was "stretched, naked, her arms wide like Winged Victory" (202).

Title quote from page 221

Moore, Christopher. Bite Me: A Love Story. Harper, 2010.