[The long drive to and fro work, and the exhausting work load mean that the only time I get to read books is the time I spend in the toilet.]
I have just finished reading Island of the Sequined Love Nun
by Christopher Moore. I had never heard of Christopher Moore before this book. What happened was that from my Blogger profile, once I clicked on the name of Carl Hiaasen, a favorite of mine, to find out who else likes him. In the list that was generated, there was one person who liked 'zany authors like Carl Hiaasen, and Christopher Moore'. Afterwards, I went to the local library to get anything written by Moore, and what I got was Island of the Sequined Love Nun.
The story line is as follows: Tucker Case is a the pilot for the personal jet belonging to the owner of a multimillion-dollar cosmetics company. A moment's madness causes him to do a rash act on/with the plane, and the resulting accident causes himto almost lose his genitalia, and he is banished to Micronesia by his employer. A missionary in one of the islands is looking for a pilot, and Tucker apparently fits the bill. The island, Alualu, belongs to the Shark People, and the missionary Sebastian Curtis, and his wife are working among them. The islanders do not have much contact with the other islands. To reach the island, Tucker has to overcome many obstacles, including a typhoon. His main help in the endeavor is a transvestite Philipino navigator named Kimi. In the opening chapter in the book, we see Tucker and Kimi hanging upside down from a tree, while an old cannibal is preparing his oven (oom
) to cook them (the cannibal refers to his human prey as "long pigs"). They are rescued from the cannibal by the rest of the Shark People. The Shark People are a cargo cult
, and Tucker's appearance have some special significance for them. I don't want to describe the whole plot, but suffice it to say that something very sinister is going on in the island, and the missionary and his wife are in the thick of it. How Tucker rescues the islanders from their plight is the story of the book. In addition to the human characters, the book also features a ghost and a talking bat. Other characters are Jake Skye, Tuck's mentor, Jefferson Pardee, a reporter, Mary Jean Dobbins, the owner of the cosmetics company, Malink, the chief of the Shark People, and Sepie, the village mispel, and Sarapul the old cannibal.
I took more than a week to finish the book. One reason was the lack of time. Secondly, I did not find the book very interesting, so there was no urge to finish the book at the expense of other mundane things like work etc. :) Christopher Moore weaves a very complicated plot. He tries to be funny too. There are a large number of one-liners, and an equal number of absurd scenes, which should have caused the reader to guffaw. Probably, that was the failure of the book. The author tries so hard to to make us laugh that we don't feel like laughing. True, he tries bonhomie, and backslapping with us while grinning himself, but even when he is grinning we can see the veins on his neck bulging with effort. A humor writer trying desperately to make his audience laugh is a huge turn-off indeed. The other problem is that Moore tries to do everything at once, every trick in the book. The effect is that of the Masala Mania that afflicts me once in a while -- I'll be cooking and then I'll start adding a little from all the spice bottles that I can lay my hand on ("a little of that cumin, a pinch of clove powder, a little bit cardamom, some hot sauce"), and the result will turn out to be invariably unappetizing. When Moore chooses to go easy on the language, the writing turns out to be better. The best scene of the book, in my opinion, was in the last chapter, when the old cannibal exacts his revenge. It was pure salt and pepper and no masalas, and it was downright chilling.
In spite of the negative comments above, I have not given up on Christopher Moore. Sometimes, the first book does not do enough to introduce one to the author. By the time one reads the second book, the author's style has become familiar, and one would be able to appreciate the book better. So I am hoping that the second book will turn out to be much better, and that Christopher Moore will join Hiaasen and Dave Barry as another of my favorite goofball writers.