© 2004 Christopher Moore
In another Christmas story, Dale Pearson, evil developer, self-absorbed woman hater, and seemingly unredeemable curmudgeon, might by visited in the night by a series of ghosts who, by showing him bleak visions of Christmas future, past, and present, would bring about in him a change to generosity, kindness, and a general warmth toward his fellow man. But this is not that kind of Christmas story, so here, in not too many pages, someone is going to dispatch the miserable son of a bitch with a shovel. That's the spirit yet to come in these parts. Ho, ho, ho.
It's Christmas in quiet Pine Grove, California: the Salvation Army bell-ringers are being walloped by sacks of ice, husbands and wives are at each other's throats, and someone just buried Santa Claus in the woods. Looks like this town needs a Christmas miracle to get back into the spirit of things. Good thing Heaven always sends an angel to Earth to perform exactly one miracle at the behest of a child every Christmas week. Unfortunately, the angel this year is Raziel, a celestial servant as bright as a bag of rocks. His attempt at restoring Christmas goes wrong -- terribly wrong. Hilariously wrong.
Christopher Moore digs into his back of goodies and bestows upon the reader heaping amounts of absurdism. This starts with the characters, two of whom are a married couple consisting of a hippie constable and a legendary if retired porn actress known as the Warrior Woman, who's just schizophrenic enough to chop down the world's tallest pine tree with her own broadsword in the name of the Worm God. Everyone in this town acts as though they're in a Monty Python sketch. The narrator is just as eccentric as the lives it details: halfway through the book, it pauses to look at the Christmas photos of the main characters, and some chapters consist of nothing but the local community of decaying corpses in the church cemetery talking to themselves -- gossiping, mostly. I manage to avoid any spoilers, and when I realized just how the angel's miracle had gone wrong, I hit the floor in mirth.
Short and sweet, a laugh-out-loud treat for Christmas time.