When it comes to the comically absurd, Christopher Moore wrote the book. Several of them, in fact.
From his first novel, Practical Demonkeeping (1992), to his most recent, Secondhand Souls (William Morrow, August 25), Moore has spun tales featuring vampires, lust-lizards, a talking fruit bat, stupid angels, Shakespearean fools and Jesus Christ himself—all of which are not only played for plenty of laughs, but loads of social commentary, as well.
In Secondhand Souls, a sequel to Moore’s 2006 novel A Dirty Job, the stakes are nothing less than life and Death itself. In the new book, people are dying in San Francisco (hey, that’s life, right?), but their souls aren’t being collected as per usual. Instead, they’re being stolen by someone—or something—and no one knows where the souls are going, or why.
A crew of unlikely heroes band together to get to the bottom of this mystery and keep the forces of evil at bay. Among them is Charlie Asher, the protagonist of A Dirty Job, a single dad and second-hand store-owner-turned-“death merchant” whose job it is to collect the souls of the dead; Minty Fresh, a seven-foot-tall, 250-pound fellow death merchant; 6-year-old Sophie, Charlie’s sweet and precocious daughter (also known as “the Luminatus,” or “the Great Death,” the only known power keeping the forces of Darkness from overrunning the universe); and Mike Sullivan, a Golden Gate Bridge painter who talks to ghosts.
If this all sounds like it’s beyond the absurd, rest assured that it is—but as any rabid Moore fan (and they are legion) will tell you, the author is more than capable of bringing it all in for a delectably satisfying landing. “Moore, whose cult readership finds him delightful for a good reason, marches to his own little drummer boy,” wrote Janet Maslin in the New York Times. “He’s Daily Show-funny and willing to subvert anything.” And as Moore’s hometown San Francisco Chronicle puts it, “Moore excels at putting a comic spin on cosmic issues.”
Recently, BookTrib caught up with Moore, who gave us his thoughts about his unique brand of fiction, Death, and his future plans.
BookTrib.com: How is it that such otherwise “deep” topics (i.e. religion, death, etc.) can be mined for so much humor and absurdity? To what extent do you feel you’re playing off of people’s fears and apprehensions regarding these subjects?
Christopher Moore: To a huge extent. People’s fears and apprehensions are part of the reason I choose these subjects. One of the best ways to deal with our demons is to laugh at them. My job is to make that not only possible, but I hope, pleasurable.
BT: What is it about your home city of San Francisco that makes it an appropriate setting for Secondhand Souls?
CM: It was the setting for A Dirty Job, and Secondhand Souls is a sequel? But what the city brings to any story is a terrific contrast of dark and light, grand and mundane. San Francisco is a very striking city, visually, too, and I think that adds to the setting. The Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, figures very largely in the plot of Secondhand Souls.
BT: When you finally meet Death, will you be disappointed if it doesn’t work the way you’ve described in your novels? What do you expect it to actually be like?
CM: I expect nothing.
BT: What’s next? What upcoming projects are you thinking about?
CM: I’m working on a Noir-ish mystery set in post-War San Francisco and another book inspired by a Shakespeare play.