on 18 December 2010
When young Joshua Barker sees Santa take a shovel to the head, he desperately prays for a Christmas miracle. Archangel Raziel has been assigned (okay well Michael was, but Raziel won it in a card game) to perform a Christmas miracle, but unfortunately for Josh Raziel doesn't have the brightest halo in the bunch. Before you can say 'Merry Christmas' Raziel had botched his mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove heading into Christmas chaos.
I've never read anything by Christopher Moore before, but this sounded so funny I had to pick up a copy. I'd heard Christopher Moore's writing described as a ruder Terry Pratchett, and having read this I definitely agree. The humour within this book is similar to Terry Pratchett in that it is sarcastic and quite dark at times, although Christopher Moore does take the jokes that little bit further. There is a note at the front of the book that sums up the writing style perfectly and reads: "If you're buying this book as a gift for your grandma or a kid, you should be aware that it contains cuss words ss well as tasteful descriptions of cannibalism and people in their forties having sex. Don't blame me. I told you."
In terms of the story itself, this is a great break from the usual saccharine Christmas fare (not that I don't enjoy that). IKEA obsessed zombies, talking fruit bats, bizarre experiments, dense angels and nutty retired actresses make for a hilarious read. Yes it's a little dark and disturbing at times, but sometimes black humour is exactly what you want.
Apparently several of the characters have appeared in Christopher Moore's other books, but I didn't feel like I'd really missed out on anything by not reading them. There is quite a wide cast of characters here, and I'm impressed that they were all quite well developed. However my favourite characters are Molly (a slightly nuts retired actress), Skinner (the dog) and Roberto (the talking fruit bat - who wears ray bans!)
One thing to note about this edition is that it is a UK version of The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, Version 2.0 - which is basically the same as The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror just with a bonus chapter at the end showing the following Christmas in Pine Cove. I enjoyed the bonus chapter, and actually prefer the book ending with that to the original ending. There are also extras in the form of a brief Christmassy interview with the author and a sneak peek at The Portable Door.
All in all this is a dark and funny Christmas read, well worth picking up if you want a break from the 'oh so sweet' usual Christmas fare. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for some of Christopher Moore's other books.
Whenever you read something by Christopher Moore, you enter a whole new world. In the case of The Stupidest Angel, the world you enter is familiar, if you have read Moore's previous books, since Moore is reprising many of the most popular characters from the past in this Christmas-inspired satire of life in Pine Cove, a California coastal community, filled with "holiday quaintage" and "festive doom." Lena Marquez, divorced from Dale Pearson, an unmitigated boor, first appeared in The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, and becomes the subject of the major plot here when she inadvertently "kills" Dale as he attacks her for stealing some of his Monterey pine Christmas trees. The local constable, Theophilus Crowe, also appeared in Lust Lizard..., and Tucker Case, who comes on the scene and falls madly in lust with Lena, was the main character in Island of the Sequined Love Nun. His sunglass-clad, talking fruit bat, Roberto, also plays a role.
Lena's fight with Dale is witnessed by young Josh Barker, age seven, who is distraught at the thought that "someone killed Santa." Soon Josh is visited by the Archangel Raziel, who appeared in Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, a klutzy angel whose mission it is to go to earth and "find a child who has made a Christmas wish that can only be granted by divine intervention," and do something for him. Josh wants Santa to come back to life.
As always, Moore's off-the-wall imagination takes over, and the investigation of Dale Pearson's disappearance becomes complicated. As the holiday comes closer, Raziel starts to work his bizarre magic and bring the newly dead back to life as part of his Christmas "miracle." The juxtaposition of the Christmas message and the violence in town are seen in sharp, ironic relief, and the question of whether there are any heroes in this novel and whether Raziel is truly an archangel come to the fore.
A no-holds-barred, let-it-all-hang-out free-for-all which gives a whole new meaning to "the willing suspension of disbelief," this is a fast-paced narrative that will keep you in stitches. The zanies on your Christmas list probably will not bat an eyelash at its profanity, its vulgar hilarity, and its unexpected satiric twists and turns. Unless your staid and proper Aunt Martha has a great sense of humor, however, you may want to think twice about giving it to her as a gift. Mary Whipple
While looking for a Christmas book for our reading group this December, that was not saccharine or sweet, I came across this. I had not read anything by Christopher Moore before and so I was not sure what to expect; but this is certainly not saccharine - just very, very funny. Many of the characters seem to have appeared in previous books, but that did not matter in this stand-alone story, as the author cleverly introduces the characters of Pine Cove; a sleepy Califormanian coastal village. Well, sleepy until Christmas anyway.
The story begins with evil developer Dale Pearson (dressed as Santa) having an altercation in the parking lot of Thrifty-Mart with his ex-wife Lena Marquez. Later, when he discovers her digging up Christmas trees on his land the argument continues and Lena accidentally kills him. This is witnessed by two people - one, handsome pilot Tucker Case, who helps her bury the body (as you would, obviously, come to the aid of a damsel in distress - even a murderous one) and the other is a young boy, Joshua Barker, who is deeply disturbed at the murder of Santa. Does this mean Christmas is cancelled? At the same time, Pine Cove is visited by the Archangel Raziel, who is on Earth to grant a child a Christmas wish.
Before long, the story is mired in a plotline of sex, drugs and murder. Theo Crowe, the local constable, is supposed to be tracking down what happened to Dale. His attempts are hampered by his wife, Molly, who has retreated into her B-Movie Warrior Princess mode, a fruitbat called Roberto, a crazy Archangel on the loose and, oh yes, the dead are rising from their graves... This is a surprisingly funny, rather charming read, but do be aware that there are lots of adult themes. If you are in any way offended by the outrageous or the indecent, you may wish to avoid this. If not, then you will find a Christmas book which is very different to most around at this time of year; full of quirky characters and lots of laughs.
on 18 August 2013
This was my first venture into this author's work, and to give you an idea of whether or not I liked it I'll tell you that I have now bought two more of his books to take on holiday with me. Ah, the blessings of being a Kindle owner. A half dozen books and no impact on my baggage allowance!
Its not perfect stuff, but its light, easy to read an quite funny in parts. As the book involves angels and zombies it is clear that anyone with an inability to suspend disbelief isn't going to enjoy it, but I can and did.
The story is set around the town of Pine Cove, somewhere on the West Coast of the USA. It involves the Christmas festivities, especially the town's tradition of holding a special gathering for those who would otherwise be lonely at Christmas. personally I'd do anything rather than admit I qualified, but this is fiction after all. There's a pilot that keeps a fruit bat as a pet, a cop who is also a pot smoker, a B film movie star who needs her meds, a femme fatal who's at war with her former husband and a cast of extras who all have things they would rather not have their neighbours knowing about them.
The angel of the title makes a massive mess of the task he has been sent to perform, so the party is set upon by zombies intent on eating the party goer's brains., and that's really all there is to the plot. What's so special about brains, by the way? Why not eat something a little more accessible, like fingers?.
Some of the characterisations are better than others, but they are all good enough to carry their story lines.
One thing puzzled me. When you think the story is over a brand new character appears and starts his own story line. It doesn't last long, but seems to be totally unrelated to the original plot. I'm guessing here, but I wonder if Christopher Moore came up a couple of thousand words short on his publisher's target and had to pad the ending. Its not an issue in itself, but it would have been nice if this character had been introduced earlier and been interwoven more into the main story line.
The Stupidest Angel is the 8th novel by American author Christopher Moore and the third book in the Pine Cove series. This is a Christmas story with a big difference! Whilst it may start with an Archangel (Raziel) sent to earth to grant a child's wish, any similarity to other Christmas tales ends right there. Moore brings together a cast of characters and a plot unlike any other. Raziel is well-meaning but stupid: he got distracted on the way to the first Nativity and arrived 10 years late. The town he picks for his Miracle, Pine Cove, is full of characters bound to make things even harder for him: Theo Crowe is the pot-smoking, pot-growing Constable; Theo is married to occasionally psychotic Molly Michon, ex-scream queen of the B movie silver screen reprising her role as Kendra, Warrior Babe of the Outland; Molly's best friend is real-estate agent, Lena Marquez, still at odds with her ex-husband; Lena's ex-husband is Dale Pearson, evil developer disliked by many; Theo's best friend is biologist Gabe Fenton, pining for his ex-girlfriend, Valerie Riordan, the town psychiatrist; new in town is randy DEA pilot Tucker Case, hoping to score some female action this Christmas. Add Tuck's giant Micronesian fruit bat, Roberto, a cast of dead people in the graveyard, and the child that Raziel has settled on, Joshua Barker, who witnesses what he believes is the untimely demise of Santa by shovel blow, and the scene is set. This tale includes sex in the cemetery, brain-eating zombies, pharmaceutically enhanced fruitcake, a sword-wielding psychotic, a wild storm and a bat in Raybans. Moore introduces concepts like Christmas Amnesty, Winter Denial and California Schadenfreude. Hilarious!
on 3 December 2011
The Stupidest Angel
A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas terror
by Christopher Moore
The book opens with `Author's Warning'
"If you're buying this book as a gift for your grandma or a kid, you should be aware that it contains cusswords as well as tasteful depictions of cannibalism and people in their forties having sex. Don't blame me. I told you."
Now how in the world would anyone in their right mind pass that up?
Welcome to Pine Grove, California, a little hamlet of pseudo-Tudor architecture all tarted up in holiday quaint-age, peopled with some of the most flawed and deviously hilarious folks about to welcome in Christmas. Well, if not Christmas, at least a big Salvation Army bell-ringers pot of Christmas spirit! Told in a snappy David Sedaris-esque bent, as a reader you really have to toss reality out the window and get out of the way--this story is a deal-changer of any Christmasy tale I've ever read.
To whet your appetite and in an attempt to not reveal too many spoilers come meet a few of the main characters.Here's Lena Marquez, 38, in terrific shape with a heart of gold and a spade that eventually murders. Dale Pearson, Lena's ex, is the towns very own evil developer and a womanizer and one heck of a Santa. Theophilus Crowe (Theo) is the town constable and has an enormous patch of top-drawer weed, the profits of which he hopes to buy his wife a special warrior sword. That would be Molly Michon an ex B-movie actress who, if not on her meds, becomes her main character, The Warrior Babe of the Outland and is often nude while making ramen noodles and, having complete conversations with, well, herself.
Then there's the angel or Archangel Raziel. Over six feet tall with shoulder-length blonde hair and eyes so blue most folks can't look into them long. Underneath his floor-length (think Matrix) black trench coat is a set of wings. Oh, and his skin glows and if he happens to get run over by say, a Volvo going fifty, he heals up on the spot and off he goes. The man or angel rather, was sent to earth on a mission. He's to find a child and grant him one Christmas wish and then his job is done. So when seven year old Josh barker witnesses the murder of Santa in the graveyard on his way home he makes his wish.
That's when the story really spins out control. There's talking dead people over behind the chapel, a rare fruit bat that wears mini Ray Bans and occasionally speaks (with a Spanish accent) and the issue of zombies is presented in a really brain-sucking way. No lie. However, in the end, the crazy Christmas chaos swirls into a truly heartwarming tale--you just have to pay a price to get there...
Oh, and as an added bonus there's Mavis Sand's fruitcake recipe. There's not one, but two secret ingredients surly to get any Christmas bash off to a bang. Xanax and Ecstacy.
Ho Ho Ho--Merry Christmas!
on 23 July 2005
Wow! My brother recommended this book for me and he wasn't wrong! A fantastic read, particularly good for Robert Rankin fans.
My one quibble with the book is that it ended. It should have gone on and on... a perpetual book, if you will.
The Stupidest Angel unites many of the characters from previous novels in the coastal town of Pine Cove for what can only be described as chaos. Moore scores with his off-kilter approach to relationships, his quirky take on American life and his devilish delight in taking modern comedic fiction over the edge. The story is short and punchy, the characters absorbing and goofy, however the actual plot is wafer thin. Smiles abound in The Stupidest Angel, it's a great story of a Christmas gone bad, yet it's not Moore on top form.
on 1 December 2013
I have read a few of Christopher Moore's books now and enjoyed every one of them, but this one is my favourite by far! It had me laughing out loud from start to finish, I just wish they would make a film of it! It has a bit of everything in it, fantasy, humour and mystery. I am now looking for everything that Moore has written, as I can't get enough of his story telling.
Not much happens in Pine Cove. It doesn't seem like the sort of place for Christmas miracles. But then Bethlehem wasn't a bustling burg, either. Given the California December weather, the coastal community has developed a ritual to ward off mid-winter ennui - Lonesome Christmas. Given the fluctuations in marriages and other relationships in the town, it's inevitable that "singles" will want some company for the holidays. There are also some poor in the town, in the best Dickensian tradition. Giving those people a nice tree for the holiday provides Moore's opening scene.
Housing developer Dale Pearson is forced to plant a new pine tree for every one he removes to build a home. An efficient man, Dale has plumped them all in one small plot. That makes it easy to nick one at Christmastime. Someone's been doing that and he sets out to catch the tree-napper in flagrante delicto. When he does, he's wearing a Santa costume for a party. He catches the tree thief, who turns out to be his ex-wife, but there's a scuffle and Dale is left with a spade stuck in his throat. "Santa's" demise is witnessed by a child, whose language skills are a high point of the book. He's special in other ways, also.
The body, however, disappears. This confuses Theo Crowe, the law-enforcement agency in the town. Everything about Dale's going missing perplexes Theo. Many things perplex Theo, not the least of which is his wife, Molly. A former B-movie star, she's the town's nut case. Actually, that's unjust, since finding anyone truly sane in Pine Cove would be a fruitless quest. However, Molly's been certified by the State, which as least gives her a legalist edge on the rest of its citizens. Dale's disappearance is offset by the emergence of an angel, encountered in separate circumstances by both Theo and Molly.
The angel, Raziel, is no stranger to Moore fans. He's dealt with one child, although tardy by ten years. Now, he's looking for another. He wants to do his job properly this time. The child turns out to be the murder witness, Josh. Still unnerved by the sight of the throat-slashed gift-giver, Josh blurts out his dearest wish to the angel. The angel, having not a shred of understanding of human affairs, proceeds to comply. The resulting activities give Moore the opportunity to display his wit and style their fullest expression. You never ask "why?" of a Moore story, nor yet a "how?". You sit back and let him take you on a bumpy sleighride of improbable events, unlikely people and quirkily resolved scenarios. Moore puts his characters through a hilarious sequence of events. All in the name of Christmas spirit[s]!
Raziel's portrayal displays his poorly hidden scorn of the supernatural. Moore crosses the line from purely humorous narrative to the mildly philosophical. Raziel isn't truly stupid. He simply has no way of understanding the human sphere. How could he? He works under a sense of logic Mr Spock would envy. Moore's approach to the supernatural is novel and effective. It forces reconsideration of the myths we hold. With his animated prose and innovative ideas, he is treading new paths in fiction. He may well be classed as the North American challenger to Britain's Terry Pratchett. For this reviewer, no greater accolade can be offered. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]