I HAVE FOUND A NEW AUTHOR to add to my list of favorite writers. Christopher Moore has been recommended to me more than once over the past few years and I finally got around to picking up one of his best-sellers, A Dirty Job: The Novel.
Charlie Asher owns a building in San Francisco from which he runs a secondhand store. He's what Moore refers to as a Beta Male; Alpha Males have all the looks and the brawn, but Beta Males are those who have been blessed (or cursed?) with a big imagination. Charlie proves time and again that he’s no slacker, at least when it comes to being imaginative. And he has plenty of opportunity, too, for, you see, Charlie has become Death. Well, technically not The Big Death (who evidently has been in absentia for several millennia), but something his friend Minty Fresh—yes, Minty Fresh is his real name—has coined as a "Death Merchant." A Death Merchant’s job is to gather souls in order to help usher the dead on to the next life.
That's all the spoiler I'm going to delve into. The rest is up to you, O Gentle Reader, to get your bunions to the bookstore of your choice, or your local library, to pick up a copy of this smart, hilarious, and action-packed book. A Dirty Job’s banter is witty. The characters are colorful. The atmosphere is brilliant (note: Moore truly immersed me into the San Francisco urban scene). The plot is absolute fun. And the villains are not only heinous but downright bad ass. I could barely put this book down, and now I'm a total nut for Christopher Moore!
My wife also read this book, and we both agree that if Hollywood isn't looking to make a movie of A Dirty Job, then a lot of agency-slash-producer-type-folks are really missing the boat! This story perfectly lends itself to film. In fact, my wife and I would not be surprised if Moore didn't have Samuel L. Jackson in mind when he created Minty Fresh, or "the fresh one," as he's sometimes referred to in the book. My wife would like to see Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State) in the role of Charlie Asher, but that would be my second choice. I think Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Star Trek) was made for this role…or maybe this role was made for Pegg? Nevertheless, I think Pegg is a hilarious and brilliant actor who would have no trouble losing his accent to play Charlie Asher.
In fact, as nerds like myself are wont to do (in addition to using words like “wont”), here’s my casting wish list for A Dirty Job: The Movie:
- Charlie Asher: Simon Pegg (sans British accent)
- Minty Fresh: Samuel L. Jackson
- Lily Severo: Thora Birch
- Ray Macy: Dylan Moran (sans Irish accent)
- Inspector Alphonse Rivera: Andy Garcia
- The Emperor: Robin Williams
- Audrey: Zooey Deschanel
- Jane Asher: Portia de Rossi
I give A Dirty Job five stars (or five skulls or perhaps five out of five glowing red secondhand thrift store items, if you will). It’s really a quick and amazing read and a definite keeper for your bookshelf.