BOOK REVIEW: Bite Me, by Christopher Moore

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

BiteMeCoverBite Me is a blood-sucking, foul-mouthed, tushy-puckering plunge into the depths of contemporary, urban vampire literature, written by Christopher Moore. You’ve gotta read it.

Indeed, if you are inclined to barf at the overindulgence of lovelorn, angst-laden vampire sagas that have middle-aged readers forsaking their marriages in search of “a love like Bella and Edward’s,” you will adore this death-defying trip through the hilarious degeneracy and highfalutin wordplay of Christopher Moore’s third book in his San Francisco vampire series.

Bite Me continues the raunchy, rollicking storyline launched by Bloodsucking Fiends in 1995 and revisited in You Suck in 2007. And if you haven’t read the first two novels, not to worry. Moore’s protagonist, an edgy, horny teenage “Goth Girl,” Abby Normal, spews a recap of the previous action in the new novel’s opening chapter. Said recap is luridly interspersed with various rants.

She rants about Abby’s biology teacher “who totally has his way with marmots when no one is around.” She rants about her “mother unit” who cursed her with “small-boobed DNA.” About her “deeply gay” BFF Jared’s persona—“he dresses in dismal chic and excels at brooding, self-loathing and allergies to beauty products.” About yearning to be “turned,” so she can possess her own vampiric dark powers. And, she rants and about her steamy, forbidden love for Foo Dog, her “manga-haired love monkey,” who “almost has his master’s in bio-nerdism.”

All of this, Abby is blogging in her spiky, Romantic-poet-paraphrasing spin on hip-hop talk, which jars the reader back to Abby’s whacked out but endearing perspective every few chapters of the book.

While Abby tries to fake out the mother unit by popping home twice a week in a pretense of teen normalcy, something Abby painfully is not, she remains ensconced in the love lair she established in hopeful servitude to Countess Jody and Dark Lord Flood, the vampire “It” couple of the previous books. Unlike Dracula’s Renfield, however, Abby refuses to become a sycophantic bug-eating minion, instead, assuming the role of public servant to the city of San Francisco, which is about to face a plague of bad vampire juju, which sets the performance-art stage for book three.

Moore, like other vampire raconteurs, has his own rules of thumb for the bloodletting set that help shape his story. And, amid his comfortably complex plot and his stinky, skanky and sexy, evil, eccentric and endearing characters, Bite Me is infused with a huge honking helping of satirical commentary.

The first chapter’s title, “Hello Kitty,” is not a nod to the pink puss merchandise that has saturated the pre-pubescent female marketplace and so littered young gals’ bedrooms as to drive their parents’ to mind-bending distraction. No, in this case, Moore’s “Kitty” is Chet, the erstwhile, dine-at-home blood source for Countess Jody and Lord Flood. Chet is turned into a huge, shaved vampire cat that becomes increasing deadly with each creature he and his growing caterwaul of cats suck dry, leaving distasteful heaps of greasy, ashy, chunky stuff, reminiscent of befouled kitty litter.

In addition to artfully blood-splattered characters and hilarious commentary, Moore has a gift for description and metaphor, most of which is a bit too colorful to publish in a newspaper, but here are a couple of the more tame examples:

The stoner, vampire-chasing night crew from Safeway is helping cook up a batch of vampire cat-killing soup: “Foul and magical fumes bubbled out of the kettle, like the flatulence of dragons on a demon-only diet.” And, when Abby Normal thinks Foo Dog has rejected her for a car, she mourns: “So it’s like, Oh noez! And an inky-colored despair of rejection enveloped me like the black tortilla of repression around a pain burrito.”

Dragon farts and desperate burritos, you don’t read that every day, to paraphrase the Emperor, a homeless, beloved, but nonetheless “raving loon,” who has his finger on the pulse of the city—or lack thereof.

Perhaps most distinctive of Moore’s writing is his pervasive sense of humor. The reader can’t wallow in the gnawing anticipation of what hellishly grotesque fate might befall a character next, because Moore is pummeling you with comedy, highbrow and low.

One of his running comedic themes in Bite Me takes dog lovers to task for failing to comprehend their canine companions’ vocal emanations.

Bummer, a homeless, vampire-hunting dog tries to alert the Emperor to some lurking cats: “‘Cat! Cat! Cat! Cat!’ barked Bummer.’ … ‘Cat! Murder, pain, fire, evil, cat! Can’t you smell them? Everywhere! Must chase, chase, chase, bite, bite, bite, let me go you insane, oblivious old man, I’m trying to save you, for the love of God, CAT! CAT! CAT!’ Unfortunately, Bummer only spoke dog, and while the Emperor could tell that the Boston terrier was upset, he had no idea why.”

Meanwhile, the Emperor’s other dog, a golden retriever, joins in: “‘He’s right about the cat,’ Lazarus ruffed, nudging the Emperor’s leg. ‘We should get out of this neighborhood, maybe go over to North Beach and see if anyone dropped a beef jerky or something. I could sure use a beef jerky. Or we can stay and die. Whatever. I’m good with it.’” How accommodating, just like his breed.

It is such juxtapositions as the mundane canine wish for a bit of salted beef with the howling search for blood-sucking things that go all, like, nosferatuy in the night that make Bite Me so ridiculously, rabidly fun to consume. Put aside any anti-vampire sentiments and take a bite. It is a sanguine delight.

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Bite Me by Christopher Moore Publisher: William Morrow 2010 Binding: Hardcover Pages: 309 Price: $23.99

Published by the North County Times.