Despite my mini-rant about making lazy comparisons in my last review, I can hardly help but think of A Dirty Job in terms of its similarities to things I’ve either read or seen. Reading it brought to mind everything from the short-lived television series Reaper to Kevin Smith’s Dogma. Part of me wants to write this review in the form of a list, rattling off every comparison that occurred to me in the process of reading it. I’ll resist the urge, though.
Instead, I’ll tell you a couple things which should make clear how thoroughly engrossed this book made me. First of all, I put myself at greater risk of walking into traffic than usual just so I wouldn’t have to wait the 45 minutes it takes me to walk to Dairy Queen and back to continue reading it. This was the first time I’d attempted making that particular trek whilst reading, and I don’t know if I trust myself to make it again, what with all of the obstacles, and the whole walking-on-the-side-of-the-road bit.
Second of all, even though I’d walked all the way there in 80+ degree heat for the sole reason that I wanted to try the Blizzard of the Month, lemon meringue pie, I barely paid any attention to the thing once I’d bought it. I absent-mindedly stuffed all of my large Blizzard down my gullet, yes, but it didn’t leave much of an impression compared to the book I was reading as I did, plus it took me an unusually long amount of time to finish it off. I even stuck around inside Dairy Queen for a while, not wanting to tear my eyes from the page long enough to get up, or to go back outside where I could no longer devote my full attention to the book.
Third of all, as picky as I am where humorists are concerned, Moore would appear to be the first one (besides Douglas Adams) that I’ve felt lives up to his billing. Pratchett is wildly hit or miss, with many more misses than hits. Sedaris has been all miss, minus that one hit (When You Are Engulfed in Flames). Palahniuk is formulaic and tends to rely too much on the shocking and the obscene. But Moore, in the span of two books, has amused me more than those three combined.
I’m reading another one of his books at the moment (Fluke), and while the laughs are fewer, they’re most certainly not weaker. Unlike the authors I listed, I never have trouble reconciling one book with another, wondering how his humor can be so effortless in one and so completely absent in another. With every lull, I know there’re more laughs upcoming, that I need only be patient.
Now I know this is all highly subjective, centered mostly around what I do and do not find funny, and so it won’t tell you too great a deal about whether or not you will like it. Except, isn’t humor the most subjective of all art forms (and it is an art form)? Who am I to tell you whether or not you’ll get your jollies from this?
A friend of mine relies upon reviews from trusted critics to ascertain whether or not a particular comedy is worth seeing in theaters, and the habit confounds me. Trailers routinely shove all the film’s best jokes into the span of a couple minutes, which is why they can never be fully trusted. But I’d sooner base my decision upon whether or not I find them funny than whether or not someone else, whose sense of humor could be as inconsistent as mine own, thought it funny.
Honestly, I could describe, in-depth, Moore’s style of humor, and it might tick all your boxes, yet leave you cold when it comes time to actually read it. In short, ignore me. Either do what I did, which is check out some quotes from it over on Goodreads to get a feel for the humor, or simply give it a go. Those really are your two most reliable options.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.