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Coyote Blue Paperback – October 1, 1996
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This is an accelerating comedy with shadows setting off the wry, polished humor. Trickster deities thrive on contrariety, which is why one finds them bringing life into dead landscapes and disorder into order. A Santa Barbara insurance salesman's too-tidily-contained lifestyle, far from the Crow reservation he grew up on, is an irresistible target for Coyote, who wants to make sure his chosen people don't forget him. Coyote descends on Sam Hunter like one of Job's plagues, albeit a charmingly disingenuous one. "Why me? Why not someone who believes?" asks Sam, suffering from god-induced chaos. "This is more fun," says Coyote. He's right.
From Publishers Weekly
A lonely Crow Indian turned yuppie insurance salesman seeks the power of an ancient Indian god to give him enough courage to approach the woman of his dreams.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"Love: the sickest of Irony's sick jokes. The place where logic and order go to die."
"If you're going to learn, you need to forget what you know."
"Anger is the spirits telling you that you are alive."
"Who did she think she was? You can't just go around blurting out the truth like a prophet with Tourette's Syndrome."
"Why understand when you can believe?"
My reference above about reading the punchline first refers to the fact that I stumbled across Moore and his manic take on life (and unlife) when a friend gave me Moore's novel, Lamb. From the absurdly expressive cartoon illustration on the front cover to the epilogue, I was literally consumed by the tritest and most hackneyed of reviewer's compliments, kudos like: "side splitting," "couldn't put it down," "laugh-out-loud," etc. You get the picture.
Since then, I've read several of his novels and regretably none have attained the raucously ridiculous and frenetic peaks he attained in Lamb. Close at times but no cigar.
On the good side however, Coyote Blue comes the closest of those I've read. I highly recommend it to anyone who wallows cheerfully in their addiction to the brand of verbal insanity spewed by the likes of Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry. You know who you are. So take heart, Moore definitely belongs in the same padded cell that they inhabit, and this among his best.
But, a word of caution - Read Lamb last - it is virtually excel-proof.
His books are all incredibly entertaining and this one is no exception. This book has some of the funniest parts I have ever read in a book. I really hope they make this into a movie!!! The plot is great, the characters well defined, and the pacing is perfect. I won't spoil the book here, but let's just say the book keep me in the "can't put it down" mode until the very end. This book is so good that I have given it away to a number of people as gifts.
Moore lacks something though, and I can't place it. His style is somewhere between Vonnegut and Tom Robbins. Instead of being a synthesis of these two writers (who I enjoy), he feels vaguely like a degenerative version of them.
It tells the story of native American Sam Hunts Alone, who, as a teenager of the Crow tribe commits a crime (accidentally) that causes him to flee the nation and the only world he has ever known. Years later, he is reinvented as Sam Hunter, a hugely successful insurance salesman who feels a great emptiness in his life. He has pushed his native American roots totally into the background and is really just going through the motions of living...not feeling an identity of his own. Suddenly, into his life comes the trickster, Coyote, who proceeds to totally unravel Sam's life in the most shameless (and hilarious) manner possible. But in the same day, Sam meets Calliope, a sort of hippie woman (although about 15 years too late to really be a hippie) with a young baby. He falls head-over-heels with her.
One crazy adventure after another leads Sam, Calliope and Coyote (with an ever changing cast of characters tagging along) across country, ultimately back to the home of the Crow tribe.
Moore takes an interesting view of Native American culture. He has obviously done his homework, and gets many interesting details of their religion, their culture and their mythology right...with an obvious respect showing. But at the same time, he steeps these beliefs in irony and humor. In Moore's world, everything is sacred, but it's all good to make fun of too. And he makes lots of fun. Whether he's poking at Indian life or folk-tales, Southern California life, Las Vegas, love or death, Moore is always sharp, on-target but never mean-spirited. It is this lack of meanness that allows us to feel a connection to these characters...to actually care what happens to them.
While Moore's book is very funny, it doesn't let its readers off the hook emotionally. Not everything is sweetness and light. Not everything turns out as we might like. It's also pretty good at exploring the consequences of one man trying to push an entire culture he's been steeped in away. The book says a lot about the plight of the Native American in our modern society. It's not heavy-handed, but the observations are clear and pointed nonetheless.
I enjoyed myself immensely reading this book. I laughed out-loud several times, chuckled many others and smiled through most of it. If you don't mind the idea of a slightly off-kilter (OK, more than slightly) you should enjoy this book. It would be a good introduction to Christopher Moore. I highly recommend it!