I heart Christopher Moore, I heart him hard. So I was stupidly excited when his publicist got in touch with me about doing a review and a contest for Moore’s latest book, Bite Me: A Love Story. I immediately said yes, although I explained that I don’t do reviews, per se. I have strong feelings about authorship and reviewing, which I won’t air here, but I absolutely don’t mind the combination of authorship and recommendations. If I really like a book, I want to gush about it, as I’m a gushy sorta person. I was also highly confident that I would enjoy Moore’s latest, as I think he’s one of the smartest people we have in the biz.
That said, I also realized Bite Me was part of a trilogy, and one that I had not yet read. And so, as soon as my free copy of Bite Me arrived, I went out and bought the first and second books of the trilogy, Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck. Needless to say, that is one smart publicist. 😉
I’ve finally read all three, and I wasn’t wrong to assume I’d want to recommend them. I loved the lot, and thought they actually got stronger as a series over the course of the trilogy. What I appreciated about them is what I love about Moore’s books, in general. On the one hand, they are absolutely unrealistic, urban-fantasy romps starring immortal vampires who trawl the earth turning mortals for fun. And yet, they are also so utterly real, with so much empathy, honesty, and a spirit that even as it exposes the banalities of our human condition also insists on scratching a bit deeper to reveal that which is, if not good, at least courageous and kind. Furthermore, as a woman and as a practitioner of the dreaded Gender Studies–and one who focused onÂ MasculinityStudies, at that–I adore Moore’s depiction of men. Men in UF tend to be either Villains or Heroes. To whom the latter seem to have genuine “issues” added simply to make them extra-needy of their heroines. In other words, the men are either perfectly evil, or perfectly imperfect in a “fix-him up” sort of way.
Moore toes a difficult line with his own male characters. His men aren’t Postmodern sacks of angst and anomie, nor are they caricatures of outdated alpha-male masculinity. You won’t catch them masturbating with the family dinner, a la Portnoy, although I wouldn’t leave your socks laying around; and neither are they twirling broadswords as they contemplate their mortal lover’s Pure and Beautiful Soul that Quenches the Darkness Inside of Overly-Muscled Dark Souled Immortals. Instead Moore’s men seem like something much more difficult to write, I’d imagine . . . men who are decent, and vulnerable. Men who know their limitations and yet aspire to greater things, whether it be to write, or to fall in love, or just to find that elusive really good pizza joint.
Moore’s ability to write an interesting, original (if paradoxically familiar) male character definitely shines in this trilogy. C. Thomas Flood is a gem of a Moore hero, not least because Moore writes a man-boy (Tommy is only nineteen) to perfection. But what I really loved about these books was that I was as impressed by Moore’s characterization of Jody, the female lead, as I was by his men. In fact, Bloodsucking Fiends actually starts from a POV focused on Jody, and Moore does a stellar job capturing the general anxiety of the Cosmo generation. Without giving away any spoilers, I thought his choices for Jody at the end of the series, in Bite Me, were both brave and insightful. Not least because Moore resists the temptation to depict love as simple, something I admire greatly.
Ultimately, I think what Moore gets about people, and which makes him a rarity, is how hard is life, really. Even for those who appear comfortable, or confident, or simply accepting of circumstances, life is difficult and our chances to grasp at happiness both frightening and fleeting.
He also says, “fucksticks.” A lot. A word that makes me giggle, every time I read it.