Friday, May 11, 2018

Christopher Moore at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, CA

Christopher Moore can be described in one word: wacky. He's like Dave Barry, if Barry had no inhibitions. 
Moore was at Kepler's Books promoting his new novel, Noir (2018). Before signing books, he gave a "commencement speech," hat and all, with several points of advice: "Face your fears... unless it's fire." And "You'll probably get VD [venereal disease] but not at the zoo. Probably." 
It's unclear if Moore, who studied anthropology at Ohio State, graduated from any college. The Q&A session revealed other interesting tidbits. Moore's grandfather, a military veteran, loved to read. When out at sea, servicemen had lots of free time, and sometimes, his grandfather would read "a book a day." His love of reading passed down to his son, who became a police officer. Moore would observe his father reading at home and he, too, "read a lot." Moore's influences include Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, and Carl Hiassen (like Dave Barry, also a Miami Herald columnist).

What was he like as a teenager? "A smartass. No one likes a smartass and now I get paid to be one." 

Will his novels ever be made into movies? Moore explained "getting optioned means nothing." In other words, just because someone or a company buys a book's movie rights doesn't mean a movie will get made. More likely, the option to make a film will be passed on or shopped around in perpetuity. 

My favorite Moore book is Bloodsucking Fiends (1995) and I was disappointed in the sequel, You Suck (2007), which felt forced. As Moore became more popular, he sought inspiration by leaving the inner workings of his own mind and using details learned while traveling. I prefer Moore's unhinged comedy more than his reality-fantasy hybrid (e.g., he traveled to the Dead Sea to research a book about Christ's fictional childhood friend), but fans implored me to give Lamb (2002) a chance. I haven't read Noir (2018) yet, but it looks complex, and I'll probably write down all the different characters' names to keep them straight. 

When it came time to sign my book, I asked him to sign it to "Bloodsucking Fiends." Moore, perhaps unaccustomed to someone wackier than himself, questioned why I wanted him to sign it that way, but eventually acquiesced, adding a quizzical "Okay!" He gave fans mini alien figures with his signature imprinted on the aliens' foreheads. Moore's wackiness is unparalleled but I wish he'd recapture the effortless humor he had when writing about his true interest: horror. 

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