Christopher Moore (blog)
William Morrow (2004), Edition: 1st, Hardcover (ISBN 0060590254 / 9780060590253)
Fiction, 288 pages
Source: Personal/purchased copy
Reason for reading: Seasonally appropriate re-read (not previously reviewed)
Note: There’s a second edition of this novel available with a new chapter added (ISBN: 0060842350) – that’s not the edition I have.
Opening Lines: “Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe.
“Pine Cove, her pseudo-Tudor architecture all tarted up in holiday quaintage — twinkle lights in all the trees along Cypress Street, fake snow blown into the corner of every shop’s windows, miniature Santas and giant candles hovering illuminated beneath every streetlight — opened to the droves of tourists from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Central Valley searching for a truly meaningful moment of Christmas commerce. Pine Cove, sleepy California coastal village — a toy town, really, with more art galleries than gas stations, more wine-tasting rooms than hardware stores — lay there, as inviting as a drunken prom queen, as Christmas loomed, only five days away.”
Raziel – previously introduced in Christopher Moore’s Lamb – is the title character of The Stupidest Angel, but he doesn’t actually appear very often in the novel. He does make an impact when he shows up, though.
This seriously funny short novel is one of my favorites by the author, partly because it’s a greatest-hits collection of characters – including one I’m especially fond of, “geek in a cool guy’s body” Tucker Case – and a return to the setting of his earliest books, the postcard-pretty Central Coast town of Pine Cove. But like many postcard-pretty small towns, it’s occupied by some less-than-pretty people. Pine Cove’s notable residents include a former B-movie actress best known for her “Warrior Babe” character – she may lapse on her anti-psychotic meds, but she keeps up her martial arts training; her husband, the pot-smoking town constable; and, of course, the evil developer. When said evil developer has an unfortunate mishap during a disagreement with his ex-wife after a Christmas party, and a small boy accidentally witnesses said mishap, events are set in motion for the weirdest, scariest holiday this town – which has seen a lot of weird, scary stuff – has ever had.
I keep my copy of The Stupidest Angel with our Christmas decorations; I put it out, along with several other holiday-themed books, every year. I decided that this year it wouldn’t just go on display, though – it was time for a re-read. There’s not a lot of substance here; while novels like Lamb and Fluke (and even, to some extent, A Dirty Job) show that Moore does sometimes weave bigger themes into his fiction, this one’s just good, quirky fun – a fast and frequently laugh-out-loud funny read. If there’s any lesson here, it’s a twist on “be careful what you wish for:”
“Be careful to tell your wish to someone who won’t misunderstand what you’re wishing for, or else your Christmas miracle could go very, very, wrong.”