Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pine Cove was a decorative town...only one degree more functional than a Disneyland attraction

After a few slow reading months I decided I needed something quick and fun to read next. You know, so I could bolster those total pages read each month that no one but me cares about. But lucky for me, I had an unread Christopher Moore book sitting on my shelf.

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove takes place in the same fictional town of Pine Cove that his first novel, Practical Demonkeeping, was set. And like PD, it also involves a supernatural monster, although this time it's the Sea Beast Steve instead of the supernatural demon Catch terrorizing the tiny resort town. On top of this there's a suspicious suicide, a ranch no one's allowed to step foot on and the local psychiatrist has just changed everyone's anti-depressants to placebos. Moore's skill is creating colorful characters and once again his cast is a lot of fun to watch. There's the pot-head constable Theo, the guilt ridden psychiatrist Val, the nerdy biologist Gabe (or Food Guy as he's known by his dog Skinner), the local crazy lady and ruined B-movie star Molly and of course the bartender of the local bar, who is now more machine than person (what with the replacement hips, pacemakers, etc), Mavis. How can you not want to read whatever they get into?

I was surprised after I finished reading The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove to find out that this wasn't the second novel he wrote. It's not only that it has the same setting and several same characters as his first novel, but it feels like an early novel. The book is funny but it doesn't have the heart of some of his other novels, like Lamb or Fool. There is a lot going on and the different story-lines feel like they're rushed at the end. The book constantly jumps from one point of view to another, which I actually like, but it means that there is a lot going on and it's easy to lose focus. And because there are so many characters (I didn't even mention Estelle the artist or Catfish the blues singer. Except now I did.) no one gets the attention they deserve and they feel unfinished.

It was still fun and certainly a quick read but I know he can do so much better.

Title quote from page 129

Moore, Christopher. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. Harper Collins, 1999.