Coyote Blue

Since picking up Lamb and A Dirty Job a couple of years ago, I’ve been a big fan of Christopher Moore’s writing.  I’ve said before that I think it’s far too easy to dismiss Moore as nothing more than a humorist, when he is a very skilled author who does a lot of interesting things in all of his books.  This book is no exception.

Book StatsCoyote Blue

294 pages

Drama, Satire

Characters

The characters in this book are all interesting, but not terribly deep.  The book focuses on Sam Hunter, a full blooded Crow indian who left his reservation when he was 15 due to a “deadly misunderstanding with the law” (words from the back of the book).  Since then he’s become an insurance salesman, and because of this he’s become very adept at hiding who he is, to the point where he really doesn’t know who he is, only who he is pretending to be.

Setting

Modern day (well, modern day when it was written, the book was published back in 1994) California primarily, but also located partly in other states.

Plot

There’s a problem in trying to talk about the plot of this book, it’s a little hard to discuss without spoilers, especially since the first 1/3 of the book is largely about setting up the story and the mythology that Moore uses for the rest of the book.  I typically don’t try to talk about events that take place more than the first third of the way through the book, so I won’t get into too much of the plot here.  But one of the things about this book is that it’s less about the plot and more about the meaning behind it.

Enjoyment

One of the books that I read before I started this blog was Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.  I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of Gaiman’s work, but a whole lot of other people are.  One of the most thoughtful reviews of American Gods that I’ve ever heard was that the book was really about what it’s like to be a god from a foreign country living in America today.  I think that this book does a better job of explaining that problem than Gaiman’s, while at the same time telling a better overall story.

Sam has his normal life interrupted by the ancient Crow god Coyote, and Moore does a perfect job of showing how different the world today is from the world that Coyote knew.  Moore also does a good job of showing that the gods of old largely survive based upon the the stories that are told about them, and he explains this by visiting another god later in the book who is largely dead to the world because his stories are never told.

At the same time, we’re shown the story of how Sam lives his life basically going through the motions, and never really thinking about what he really wants, only thinking about what he needs to do to get by.  So while Coyote’s part of the story is talking about the loss of old religions, Sam’s is about the alienation that we feel from each other in our daily lives.  Sam’s story also talks about how easily our simple little lives can get thrown out of whack by a seemingly innocuous meeting.

Overall Grade

Not quite as funny as some of Moore’s other work, but a very well written and thoughtful book.

8/10

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5 Comments

  1. I really need to give Moore a try one of these days. The books always look and sound like a great deal of fun.

    Reply
    • I’ve enjoyed most of his books that I’ve read, they’re pretty quick reads and usually quite funny. Lamb is probably his funniest book, but they’re all quite good.

      Reply
    • Hannah Bassett

       /  February 20, 2014

      I feel the same way. I’m pre-Moore right now, with plans to pick up a novel by him one of these days.

      Reply
  2. snowblanca

     /  May 13, 2014

    I adore Moore. He’s funny, and brilliant. And I far prefer him to Gaiman. Not that I don’t appreciate Gaiman, but I think you made a good point that that American Gods was about being a foreign God in the Americas, as opposed to being about American Gods. I thought his take was very arrogant and dismissive of our continent’s indigenous cultures. Moore on the other hand with Coyote Blue really showed some respect. I also feel like there are things in AG kind of taken from CB… Moore is known for researching a lot of his books in depth if they don’t take place in his normal universe of Pine Cove.
    For those saying they are “pre-Moore”, I recommend reading the books in order. It’s not a series, but his style builds, and there’s a lot of cross over of characters. I didn’t start in order (Dirty Job was my first one). But after getting to know his works, I went back and read them all again, in order, and it was really neat to see these cameos of people.
    Lamb, Sacre Blue, and Fool/Serpent of Venice, they aren’t in the same universes.

    Reply
    • I don’t know if I’d call American Gods disrespectful to our cultural history, I think he just chose to focus on something else with his story.

      I don’t know if I’d suggest to start with Moore’s earlier books, I didn’t care for Practical Demonkeeping as much as his later books, and if that was the first book of his that I’d read I probably wouldn’t be the Moore enthusiast that I am now.

      I think Sacre Bleu sticks out more than any of Moore’s other books. It has some humor in it, but it doesn’t feel like a Moore book. And while I enjoyed the book, I don’t know if I would have picked it up had it been written by another author.

      Reply

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