Fiction: “Practical Demonkeeping” by Christopher Moore

Fucking-A, man. As one of my heroes, Frank Vitchard, once said: this is getting ri-goddamn-diculous. I finished this book back in October. October. Like, before Halloween. And I’m just getting to write about it now? The hell, man?

And as if that weren’t bad enough, it has taken me three weeks to read one book. You know how I know it’s been three weeks? Because the book (and the four others I took out from the library) are due this week. I’m not sure which day they were due — all I know is I’m looking at some overdue fees because I’m too lazy to get out my library card and renew them online. And I’m not even sure I can renew them once they’re overdue (although I think I’ve done that in the past).

Let’s put this in perspective. In the time since I’ve finished Practical Demonkeeping and tonight, when I’m writing the review, the following things have happened: 1) LucasFilm was bought out by Disney; 2) Barack Obama was reelected President of the United States; and 3) Hostess went out of business, thereby ruining stonerdom for all time. You all want signs of the apocalypse? There’s three for you right there.

Okay, so, speaking of apocalypses. Apocalypsi? Shit. I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse. And now I’m pissed that I’m quoting Riley Finn, of all people. And now my thumb hurts, for no readily apparent reason. That’s karma for ya.

OKAY, ALAINA. I said, “Speaking of apocalypses,” let’s talk about Practical Demonkeeping. This was Christopher Moore’s first novel, but not the first novel by him that I read. Back in the middle of October — y’know, when I actually read this damn thing — I found myself going through a terrible bout of nostalgia. I had realized that I had six months to remain in my twenties, and there is a long list of Things I Want to Do Before Turning 30. (Which now includes “Travel to Washington, D.C. for a Weekend so I Can Touch the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 That Lives in the International Spy Museum.” Thanks, Skyfall!) So as a way to make myself feel better about not accomplishing anything on that list thus far and, also, as a way of dealing with my return of Saturn, I picked up Practical Demonkeeping because a) I keep meaning to read more of Moore, and why not restart at the beginning, and b) because my landlady’s husband was currently reading H is for Homicide.

Practical Demonkeeping introduces the town of Pine Cove, California, which I imagine to be a tiny town close to Big Sur. I say ‘imagine’ because, if y’all recall, when I was supposed to drive through that area last year, a chunk of the PCH fell into the ocean, causing my detour into Salinas. So I can’t really say that it is Big Sur; I can only guess. I was really looking forward to driving over the Bixby Canyon Bridge while listening to “Bixby Canyon Bridge.”

Wow. Apparently I am still pissed about that. Fucking gravity, man.

Pine Cove is a sleepy little town where not much ever happens. Augustus Brine runs the Bait, Tackle and Wine Shop. Mavis runs the Head of the Slug tavern. Robert and Jenny are going through a divorce, and the entire town knows about it. The same thing happens every day — and because this could be a potential Moore-sian twist, no, it is not Groundhog Day. It’s just that nothing ever happens in Pine Cove.

Until one day, a stranger named Travis arrives in town. He’s quiet, very polite, and a shark at billiards. At the same time, Augustus is visited by a Djinn, who tells him he needs to help fight against a demon.

Turns out, Travis has been traveling for ninety years with the demon Catch, who eats people. Catch is controlled by a spell created by an old Pope (or something), and is only able to remain in Travis’s control by the strength of Travis’s will to control the demon. (Does that make sense? I’ve been trying to write this review for three days, and I’m too … something to go back and rewrite that sentence.) Travis’s will begins to falter when he meets Jenny, which allows Catch to go on an overnight quest amongst the residents of Pine Cove to gather the tools to gain his freedom.

Practical Demonkeeping is a very funny book, but not as funny as Lamb. Sure, there were some laugh-out-loud moments, but I think the reason Lamb is funnier is because the subject matter from which Christopher Moore creates his novel is decidedly not funny. One doesn’t expect humor to come out of the Bible; when it does show up, what was supposedly a tiny little joke becomes exponentially funnier.

Okay. One review down; one more to go, and then I need to fucking finish this other book I’m reading. Three weeks for a 300-page book? Seriously?

Grade for Practical Demonkeeping: 3 stars

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