I’m no stranger to Christopher Moore and his ridiculously outrageous tall tales – he is one of a handful of authors who can make me donkey laugh out loud while reading, even in public. Shoot, just his titles give me a chuckle. (Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, The Stupidest Angel, You Suck: A Love Story, Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings are just some examples.) He writes “comic fantasy” and his stories are absolutely absurd, so if that doesn’t float your boat I wouldn’t suggest you pick him up. Sometimes the absurdity, for me, gets very close to and at times crosses the line of “too much,” but he can usually rein it in so as not lose me as a reader. (I’ve read a couple of things prior and I do have several in my TBR pile, but you have to be in certain mood for a Moore novel.)
Published in 1999, THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE is a WTF kind of read. The absurd and the fantastical weave seamlessly out of the mundane and ordinary in this small town of Pine Cove. The “Lust Lizard” is the Sea Beast fondly called Steve by Molly, the “crazy slut” down in the trailer park who used to be a B actress in Sci Fi films. Molly took care of Steve after had attempted to mate a gas truck and it exploded, injuring him. Molly and Steve have a bizarre relationship that takes a weird sexual turn where a weed eater is involved. And that’s not even the most WTFDIJR (What the fuck did I just read) moment of the novel.
Our hero, if we’re going to have one, is Theo – the pot-smoking (and growing) town “constable” who keeps the wayward folks of Pine Cove out of the sheriff’s hair and off the sheriff’s ranch (which just so happens to a pretty big meth operation for the cartel.) Everything is going just fine until the blues singer Catfish shows up, Bess Leander kills herself, and there’s a wee bit of a leak at the nuclear power plant.
The leak rouses Steve and brings him (and his lustful longings) to Pine Cove. The “suicide” has the town psychiatrist thinking that maybe she should be listening to her clients and not just giving them pills. In cahoots with the pharmacist (who has the most disturbing of fetishes), she switches all their meds to sugar pills. The lowered serotonin levels are perfect for Steve’s predatory mechanism that makes everyone horny and therefore vulnerable to being prey. (Food or sex drives everyone, right?) Catfish has prior knowledge of the beast as he’d killed the offspring of the beast when Steve was a girl. (I didn’t say it wasn’t weird.) Steve hates Catfish and wants to avenge his/her child and the sound of the guitar will send him spiraling into a flashy rage.
Things only get worse when Theo stops smoking pot and starts acting like a detective. Maybe Bess Leander didn’t kill herself. Maybe the tracks he saw just past the trailer park weren’t a figment of his pot-soaked imagination. I won’t tell you how it all plays out, but let’s just say again that this is a WTF kind of read.
The phone behind the bar rang and Mavis yanked it out of its cradle. “Mount Olympus, Goddess of Sex speaking,” she said, and there was a mechanical ratcheting noise as she cocked a hip while she listened. “No, I haven’t seen him – like I would even tell you if he was here. Hell, woman, I have a sacred trust here – I can’t rat out every husband who comes in for a snort after work. How would I know. Honey, you want to keep this kind of thing from happening? Two words: long, nasty blowjobs. Yeah, well, if you were doing them instead of counting words, then maybe you wouldn’t lose your husband.”