Turning from the high end science fiction to the pulp horror of Slime was raucous enough, but I thought I'd up the bar a bit with the EJ-suggested Island of the Sequined Love Nun by one Christopher Moore. Moore has built up a reputation as one of the authors of silliness, easily lumped together with the shenanigans of Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series) and Tom Robbins (Skinny Legs and All, Still Life With Woodpecker, etc.), both authors who have appeared in the Off The Shelf column already.
Christopher Moore also has other novels under his belt that take high acclaim within this part-surreal, part-silly genre including Practical Demonkeeping and Bloodsucking Fiends, both of which were recommended to me by the same person who presented me with Island of the Sequined Love Nun. I do have a word of caution when reading this one however - and it is this. Hide the cover while reading in public. The cover of the book makes it look like you're reading a Harlequin romance novel, and that can lead to some embarrassing eye contact when you're not a middle aged housewife, which I most assuredly am not.
Moore's skill comes with his nonchalance in writing. Even the most outrageous situations are handled with such commonality that the situations themselves become typical, adding to the feel of the novel and giving it a narrative rather than descriptive approach. This style adds to the humor of the situations as they arise while moving them along swiftly and without dwelling upon them. Chapters are short and quick, so the book makes not only smooth reading but makes it hard to put down, meaning that those train riders among us such as myself are in danger of missing their stops. So take this as another warning.
The book is a quick running sequence of events. By the time I had barely gotten into it our hero, Tucker Case, had already had high-altitude sex, crashed a pink jet and nearly tore his balls off. So immediately Island of the Sequined Love Nun was off to a running start in the strange and unusual category. Faced with all of these happenings, Case is forced to take a job in a little known island in the Micronesian tropical chain. The involvement in the story by the messiah-like Vincent, cult following natives and religion-abusing Bad Guys [tm] leads to a great story, with Moore utilizing an easy to read format and calling up his skills of treating even the wackiest situations with an everyday objectivity.
The closing of the novel neatly wraps up all the loose ends, but seems to have been treated with a bit of disdain and a quickness that leaves off without the fervor that the book began with. It's not that it didn't close properly, it just seems a bit to quick. Stealing a 747 could have been treated with more flair and hilarity, so to speak.
Overall I enjoyed Island of the Sequined Love Nun and will be looking into reading Bloodsucking Fiends soon. Anyone interested in the wacky styles of other authors already mentioned will find a lot of fun in the works of Christopher Moore. Use it to break your usual more-serious reading routines. And you might learn something to boot - I have learned, for example, that human flesh tastes like Spam. Chris could be bullshitting about this one, but I'm going to take his word for it.
"Island of the Sequined Love
Nun" by Christopher Moore
Published by Avon Books
Copyright © 1997 by Christopher Moore