Ah, Christopher Moore. There are some days when I get so depressed about the state of the world that I can’t even turn on the TV for fear of hearing about a school shooting, or genocide, or Congress. But no matter how dim the world seems, I can count on you to lift my spirits with your completely warped and original view of that world.
For those of you unfamiliar with Christopher Moore, his novels give “suspension of disbelief” a whole new meaning. Usually involving some sort of magical, mythical, or supernatural aspect, Moore’s world is a place where a crazy, former C-movie actress can have an inappropriate relationship with an ancient sea monster and it just seems like good, clean fun.
To try to summarize this novel is a bit like trying to describe the plot of a Monty Python sketch, but I’ll give it a shot. The story takes place in the beautiful coastal town of Pine Cove, California. Moore often revisits locations in his novels and characters cross over from one novel to another, so that picking up a book you haven’t read is sometimes like visiting with old friends. More accurately, old friends who are on leave from a psychiatric institute or prison, but old friends nevertheless. In this quaint little locale, psychiatrist Valerie Riordan becomes disillusioned with modern psychiatric medicine and decides to replace her patients’ medication with placebos. At the same time, a blues singer comes to town and starts playing at the local saloon (now quite crowded thanks to the lack of anti-depressants), an ancient Sea Beast awakes from the deep and makes everyone horny, local rats start acting weird, and Theo Crowe, the town’s stoned-out constable, discovers a meth lab controlled by a scheming Sheriff. Former scream queen Molly Michon (the aforementioned crazy lady) starts hearing voices (no meds, remember) and thinks a strange trailer in her trailer park might be more than that, so she starts calling him Steve.
Yeah, doesn’t exactly translate that well into one paragraph. But you just have to trust me that Christopher Moore creates a place where it’s impossible to be sad. He doesn’t try to bore you with lessons; he just wants to share the way his crazy brain works. There is love and lust and death (one of the main characters is a Sea Beast, after all; you kind of have to expect that people are going to be eaten), but you never feel weighed down by the moral of the story, if there is one.
Moore himself describes The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove as a kind of Godzilla meets The Bridges of Madison County. While not as poignant as Moore’s excellent Lamb or A Dirty Job, or as absurdly funny as The Stupidest Angel (another Pine Cove adventure), The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove is an antidote for whatever weighty matters are getting you down. I’m no psychiatrist, but Christopher Moore may even be a good substitute for anti-depressants.