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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Reading A Dirty Job isn’t dirty work

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Imagine that you are sitting in a public place. A park bench, an airplane, a desk in class. Whatever. Youre reading this really cool book that you randomly purchased. A passage strikes you as hilarious. Suddenly, you start laughing embarrassingly loudly while those who are seated near you stare and your face grows red.

This situation is not a dramatization. It was a common experience of mine whilst reading A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. The novel is a delightfully entertaining masterpiece.

The story follows beta male Charlie Asher as he lives his wonderfully normal life. He has a beautiful wife and a child on the way. Unfortunately, all signs of normalcy disappear when those in Charlies vicinity begin dropping dead, Charlie begins to hear voices coming from San Franciscos sewers, and a book appears (The Great Big Book of Death) at Ashers Secondhand, a family-owned store.

Charlie is one of San Franciscos many so-called Death Merchants. I cant quite tell you what that is, but the book definitely presents a different view of, well, death. In addition to the Death Merchants storyline, the reader definitely gets a feel for the true tragedy of death.

In a book about death, it is not surprising that the reader (as well as Charlie) encounter numerous scenes that center on those who are dead or dying. Some scenes are somewhat heart wrenching, though Moore does a phenomenal job of keeping respectfully light during these moments, and, as the novel progresses, the reader watches Charlie come to terms with his own tragedies as he watches others experience theirs.

The novel features some fantastic characters. There is Charlie himself, who completely and totally embraces his beta masculinity as the reader loves him more and more for it. His homosexual sister Jane who definitely wears the pants (in the form of Charlies secondhand Armani suits which she has re-altered for herself without his knowledge) in all her relationships. Mrs. Korjev and Mrs. Ling, who babysit Charlies daughter Sophie, are older immigrant women who patiently handle all that is thrown at them from impossibly large dogs to tiny assassins.

There is Minty Fresh who is yet another of San Franciscos Death Merchants and is always dressed in a mint green colored suit. And lets not forget Charlies employees Ray, an ex-cop who scours the internet for love, as well as Lily, a gothic chick in her late teens who is absolutely fascinated by the Death Merchants.

The reason I go into detail about all these characters is that they are the meat of the novel. All those scenes where I was found publicly humiliating myself usually occurred during a dialogue between the ridiculous characters or when Charlie did or said a particularly Beta Male thing. The characters are all incredibly memorable in themselves and are the reason that the book is so wonderfully entertaining.

A Dirty Job is a fantastic novel which is a quick and entertaining read while still remaining a substantial book. It's funny;

really, really funny and that was more than enough to hook me. All in all it's an incredibly solid book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a funny book that makes light of a dark subject.