Posted by: Gram | May 21, 2009

Judging Covers

On one of my many adventures in not-knowing-where-the-hell-I-am-at-weekends, I wound up in Waterstones in Wigan, admiring that Stuart Macornie was signing there (especially surprising since he’s from Wigan. Take that as childish sarcasm or mild racism as you see fit) I spotted a section known as “Painful Lives”.

My immediate response was crippling depression.  Do people, people who have presumably read a book about how someone was traumatised as a child, then seek out a second book about how someone else was traumatised as a child?  Granted, there will be variety in trauma (abusive parent, abusive military dictator destroying your country, abusive pet squirrel) but surely a “book section” is because you want a book of that genre, but don’t necessarily know which book?

Which ironically¹ was what I was doing, perusing the sci-fi and fantasy section when I spotted a title.  The greatest title I’ve ever seen.  The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.  The blurb on the back of the book was even more intriguing combining ludicrous-ity, lazy doctors and a giant monster.  I knew then I had to read this book.

Unlike music, whereby I’m a fan of song rather than of the artist, I’ve found myself to like all of an authors work.  The good half of the Grant-Naylor gestalt entity, Rob Grant² is a fine example of this.  So, I decided to test the water and find the first book Christopher Moore wrote, the well titled “Practical Demonkeeping”.

It proved to be a real diamond.  Bene³, prime, good.  If nothing else he’s the natural successor (for lack of a better term) to Terry Pratchett after he finally downs his pen. Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be soon.  The story, about a reluctant demonkeeper and his disillusioned man-eating “pet” (not to mention a geriatric whittler, a salt-loving genie and a pair of drugged up sandals) was the most hilarious thing I’ve read in some time, and given I only really read comedy books, that’s something.

The cover (see scene of the crime below) is so appealing it’s the only book to receive comment from every waitress who served me in Reading.  One almost started reading it whilst I was in the gents and grilled me to find out what it was about afterward.  Gotta love that Bel and Dragon :).

It's the best looking menu I've seen in Reading

It's the best looking menu I've seen in Reading

There is however, a slight problem.  After reading two rather good Flashman books in a row I decided I wanted to spread by literary wings and so decided to put a different book between each misadventure of Harry Flashman.  Given I need to read a fair few books before the fabled one, the scenario of Christopher Moore to George MacDonald Fraser and back again wasn’t unforeseeable. 

But that isn’t going to spread melted butter (well it might, but would make a hell of a mess) never-mind metaphorical wings.  So now it’s yet another book between them.  That’s not a “Painful Life” story, of course.

So, eventually I’ll read that awesomely titled book.  Eventually.  It’s just a measly 14 books away…next up, “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind


¹ not ironic of course, but “coincidentally” and “ironically” are apparently interchangeable.  Football has declared it to be so, and at the end of the day, they are great writers of prose of the beautiful game.

² he’s the red to Doug Naylor’s yellow to make it’s favourite colour, orange.  Meanwhile, read Incompetence, it’s still my favourite, if somewhat overly cynical, book.  He’s also not dead, which many people (including me) seemed to think he was.

³ todays Victorianism means prime or good :).


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