Adventures in Reading

R.I.P. Challenge – Fiction: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

“Charlie Asher walked on the earth like an ant walks on the surface of water, as if the slightest misstep might send him plummeting through the surface to be sucked to the depths below.”

After his wife has passed away, Charlie Asher comes to discover that he is a “death merchant,” or a collector of souls. Caring for an infant daughter and a thrift store, he acclimates to his new “career.” With a variety show cast of characters, Charlie Asher just might have to save the world.

A Dirty Job’s best feature is a curious reinterpretation of death and dying set in contemporary San Francisco. The characters are developed for novelty and amusement, and overall it’s a fairly amusing page-turner.

Moore’s humor in A Dirty Job didn’t always work though, and some of the jokes were just painful to read. At times he was trying so hard to make a joke happen and it simply wouldn’t be funny. Even one of the larger themes in the book, the idea of the “Beta male” that was meant to be humorous, was never effortlessly pulled off. Some of the humor also bordered on fratire or “dick lit,” which is usually just offensive and often relies on stereotypes (read racist and sexist).

With that said, I would still be willing to read another of Moore’s books to see how it compares. A Dirty Job has an interesting plot, was well developed, and was a quick read.

Conclusion: Available on Bookmooch.

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

So I’ve done it again: I have a growing stack of books I keep intended to write up but forget so the stack keeps getting larger. Even with the amount of studying and preparation I’ve been doing for my classes, I have still been reading fairly steadily.

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende is my second book by Allende. After my disappointment with Inés of My Soul, I did not get around to picking up another book until nearly a year later. Daughter of Fortune is the story of Eliza, an orphaned Chilean taken in by British aristocrats in the colony of Valparaíso. She is seen very much as a daughter by the spinster sister Rose, who takes periodic interest in the child and the rest of Eliza’s youth is spent with Mama Fresia in the kitchen. Once Eliza hits puberty Rose takes a great interest into grooming Eliza into a proper young woman so the orphan can make a good and prominent match. That is, until Eliza falls in love with Joaquín, is impregnated, and hides a stowaway to track him through the California wilderness he left her for in search of gold.

Daughter of Fortune also is a book of class status and escaping one’s birth. Allende explores this with Rose, but also with the defiant and unsettled city of San Francisco compared to the strict and reserved culture of Chile. In this environment Allende also guides Eliza through racism, interracial relationships, and sexual exploration. Daughter of Fortune explores the power and lust of first love as well as how love can effect someone. In some ways, I found this novel very similar to Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Marquez, but admit that I am quite partial to Allende’s retelling of such themes of love.

Other opinions: Katrina’s Reads, Fizzy Thoughts.