Audiobook Review: The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore

20 12 2011

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore

Read by Tony Roberts

Harper Audio

Length: 6 Hrs 6 Min

Genre: Christmas Satire/Horror

Quick Thoughts: If you’re tired of those sappy, over done Holiday sob fests with their heavy handed morality and just want a book that allows you to embrace the Holiday tradition of laughing at the misery of others, The Stupidest Angel should fit your bill.

Grade: B

So, it’s the Holiday season and I have made it a point to embrace this season of goodwill, selflessness and camaraderie but choosing a few Christmas audiobook titles to brighten my day. The first title was a joyous account of one of my favorite literary serial killers as his takes on the War on Christmas and encounters many South Florida crazies on his way. Now, only a week or so before the birth of our Lord and Savior I have decided to give a listen to one of my favorite sacrilegious authors whose Christmas novel centers on a highly incompetent archangel, whose blunderings leads to horrific results for a California town who has had enough troubles without the meddling of a heavenly messenger. Because, isn’t this what the season of joy and giving is about. Don’t we truly want to see our fellow man thrown into a horrific, life threatening situation, to make up for the fact that these bastards steal our parking spots at the mall. I mean, sure, outwardly we hope for peace and goodwill for all mankind, but don’t we somewhere in that dark part of our heart, hope that a few members of said mankind get a little mayhem thrown into the mix. I know I do.

The Stupidest Angel is a wonderfully horrific tale that is the perfect cure for all that Holiday peace-wishing. Christopher Moore returns to his little out of the way California touristy town of Pine Cove, who in the past had to deal with crazy demons and runaway amorous pheromones. Along with the town, Christopher Moore brings back some of our favorite characters, including horndog flyboy Tucker Case, his bat Roberto, biologist Nate Quinn, as well as Pine Cove regulars like Theo, Molly, and Mavis. Moore has a lot of fun with the tropes of classic Holiday stories, taking the heartwarming plots of Holiday specials, and giving them a malicious twist. At the center of the mayhem is our less then reliable Angel, Raziel, who is sent on a Christmas mission to grant the wish of a child, bringing about a Christmas miracle. This of course, he royally screws up, making the already bad situations in Pine Cove worse. Being a special Christmas tale, The Stupidest Angel isn’t as well plotted as most of Moore’s work, he basically just pulls together some of our favorite characters, sets up a crazy premise and lets things loose. In the end, what you get is tons of laughs, a whole lot of fun, and a light hearted romp full of potty humor, weird kinky sex, a touch of sacrilege and a bunch of outrageous characters doing outrageous things. So, if you’re tired of those sappy, over done Holiday sob fests with their heavy handed morality and just want a book that allows you to embrace the Holiday tradition of laughing at the misery of others, The Stupidest Angel should fit your bill.

With all the great narrators that have performed Christopher Moore’s work, I was sort of disappointed that it was Tony Roberts that was chosen for this tale. It’s not that he did a horrible job. I have never been a huge fan of Roberts’ narration. It just comes off a bit too polished and professional sounding, with very little life. Here, my issues with him are compounded with his strange, revolving pronunciation of Raziel’s name. Luckily, most of my issues come down to personal taste. Roberts reads the story clearly and puts enough spin on the characters voices that you are kept pretty well into the story. Some may love what he does, while others may be indifferent. For me, I guess, it came down to imagining someone like Fisher Stevens or Oliver Wyman doing the narration, and feeling that Roberts pales in comparison to them. All things considered, I had a fun time with this strange little holiday tale, and in the end, that is truly what matters.

Audiobook Review: Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore

7 05 2011

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore (Pine Cove, Book 1)

Read by Oliver Wyman

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Whimsical Horror

Quick Thoughts: Moore’s first novel may not be as polished as his more recent work, but it’s still a humorous mad capped fun novel. with excellent narration by Oliver Wyman.

Grade: B

Christopher Moore will always have a special place in my heart for a few reasons. Firstly, because A Dirty Job was one of the first audiobooks I ever listened to and it really won me over to the format. Yet, mostly because the mere reading of one of his books on a break at work nearly led to a harassment complaint being filed against me by a coworker. It really started out simple, I was reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend. It’s a fine book, and personally, as someone who grew up in a conservative church, I found it to be quite an interesting look at Christ. Yet, it seems one of my coworkers wasn’t as amused. In fact, he told me that by reading that book, I proved that I was a bad person, and that by displaying it in public I was creating a hostile work environment for true members of the Christian faith. Well, those weren’t the exact words he used, but that was the implication. So, in order to not offend my coworkers, I decided to make a high school style paper bag cover for the book… then write the full title on it in florescent markers for all to see. Again coworker… not amused. Oh, well. So, since that point, I have always enjoyed displaying my Christopher Moore novels proudly. Of course, it’s tougher to do that in audiobook form… maybe I should buy a T-Shirt.

Practical Demonkeeping is Christopher Moore’s first published novel. It definitely has a rawer, less polished feel to it. In some ways it reminded me of a Tim Dorsey or Carl Hiaasen novel, except with supernatural elements. You have a normal character or two, who are surrounded by a mass of crazy oddball people and bizarre subplots that are eventually all pulled together for a stunning ending. Because of this structure, I had a hard time embracing the novel early on, but once things got moving, the humor began to show through, and the characters became embraced by this reader. Moore creates an interesting mythology with Practical Demonkeeping, and has quite a likeable, yet intriguing character in Travis O’Hearn. I always like the loveable straight guy, who through his naivety and reactions to the ills of others, falls into a situation they would never seek out. Travis epitomizes this type of character, a good guy forced into doing bad things. Practical Demonkeeping is far from the perfect novel, but it is a good indicator of Moore’s realized potential as one of the best satirist writing today.

The audiobook version of this novel was enhanced by the performance of narrator Oliver Wyman. Yeah, I know, I have said that plenty of times before, but there is a reason that Wyman is one of my favorite narrators. Wyman handles the supernatural elements of this novel perfectly. Crash, the demon, is voiced with humor, but never forgetting he is a demon. There were multiple times were some exclamation by Crash had me laughing out loud. Wyman handles the many human character well, giving them the appropriate tones and style of speaking. I think it’s hard for narrators to perform novels that use humor but don’t depend on them, like Moore’s work, without either underplaying the humorous moments, or going over the top. Wyman finds the happy medium here, performing the heck out of the book where needed, but otherwise, allowing the text to speak for it self.