1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 1: Bloodsucking Fiends, by Christopher Moore


I picked up Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore at Chapters, in part because it was on sale for $9.99 (which is disgustingly cheap for contemporary best-sellers) and in part because I have seen Moore’s novels (with his trade-mark, bubbled-bold font and solid contrasting colour schemes) plastered all over the books store for years now. I had heard he was a hipster writer of sorts (in the Chuck Palahniuk vein I had hoped), and figured I’d give it a shot.


The novel is about a newly made vampiress (Jody) who is learning the ins and outs of vampirism whilst trying to figure out who made her undead and why. She enlists the assistance of a romantic, aspiring writing who calls himself C. Thomas Flood (the C. standing for nothing more that the ‘S’ in Harry S. Truman), and who is better known to the other characters in the novel as Tommy. Jody is a serial monogamous who has lived with 10 men before the age of thirty and is as jaded as Tommy is naïve, which makes them a near perfect match since Tommy is looking for a true love, and Jody is looking for stability.  This is especially important for one whose resume includes not being able to go about during the day to take care her needs as she sleeps in hiding from the sun light.



Christopher Moore

Moore opts for the tired omnipotent narrator. Mildly humorous lines creep up from time to time, but for the most part they sound like something that was either borrowed from, or written for some unwatchable sitcom. Tasteless ethnic humour is employed is employed throughout, from a Hispanic member of a midnight crew having multiple kids, to a turtle vendor in China town being unable to pronounce the letter ‘r’. There are also some less-than-clever puns employed, but none of them seem to offer any sort of propulsion to the narrative, nor do they seem to encourage reader to stop and consider how this humour is speaking to a theme that is trying to be drawn out by the narrative.

Moore plants Tommy in the middle of a grocery store’s midnight crew, which he names “The Animals”, in some ineffective way to create a sort of false comradeship between the group, which seems a little more than insincere at times. Tommy is painted as a wannabe writer who travels to San Francisco in hopes of becoming the next Jack Kerouac, something the world is not in need of! His copy of On The Road ends up at a crime scene, planted by Jody’s paternal Vampire, and is picked up by a pair of police officers who stylistically seem to share a mildly clichéd partnership, that is nevertheless entertaining at times. The Vampire who turned Jody into a member of the undead is planting dead bodies around Jody and Tommy, for a purpose never really explained (I guess Moore wants us to buy the novel’s two sequels), and the Vampire is apparently extremely wealthy (and old), with no explanation as to how he came into his fortune. Nor is it ever explained why Jody was selected to become a member of the undead. A member of the ‘Animals’ turns out to be HIV positive, which seems an attempt at some sort of dramatic effect that comes across as drama for dramas sake as there seems to be no broader implications to this piece of the plot. There is also a terminally ill man who is welcomely euthanized by Jody, bringing the comical nature of the narrative to an abrupt stop and seemingly attempting make some sort of statement about euthanasia, but its meaning is lost on me.

The beautiful thing about Palahniuk’s writing is that he seems to be very much aware of how his work can be read. His work carries heavy feminist overtones, challenges socially assigned gender roles, invokes Taoist and post-modern ideologies and in Pigmy questions individual ownership. Moore, on the other hand, well seemingly aware of some literary figures and historical facts.  For instance, he draws on the ‘beat’ generation in San Francisco and even indulges, as Neil Gaiman did to better effect, on the curious history of Joshua Abraham Norton, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, as he creates a contemporary rendition of the historical figure. However, upon completing the novel it doesn’t seem that Moore had any more familiarity with any of the historical figures he draws upon than one might have after reading a Wikipedia article on them.

Moore’s novel seems to lack content. It is, at times, a pleasurable narrative that is not weighted by broader implications or post-modern interpretations, and would be enjoyed by many, most especially younger readers. For a reader hoping to be entertained and challenged though, the book is somewhat lacking.  It picks up on important social issue, but fails to explore them thoroughly, and in the context of his tasteless and cliched ethnic humour, it is hard to take the work seriously, even if it is working as a comical satire.  How interesting it might have been to read a vampire novel that did more that try to be a quirky version of Twilight. Perhaps a novelisation of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in which the ruling class acts as the parasitical vampire of the exploited working class! It could have been an excellent lampoon on capitalist society. But then that would have been an entirely different book, one worth re-reading and recommending. Instead, Moore has left us with a mildly entertaining, sometimes humorous, narrative that lacks content and would be happy to invite movie treatment for a narrative that isn’t even up to sitcom standards. Aids? Homosexuality? Euthanasia? They seem to be serious themes that are drawn on for shock or humour or drama’s sake without ever really making a serious comment on them. Is euthanasia ok if a vampire uses his or her instincts to determine if it is morally the right course of action? Seriously?

Recommendations: If one wishes to enjoy some contemporary work that works in the vein supernatural and inspire a genuine laugh-out-loud response, or tickle some interesting post-modern interpretations, then I would suggest picking up a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, or watching the film Zombieland, directed by Ruben Fleischer and staring Emma StoneWoody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg.

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Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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