Friday, July 20, 2007

Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore used to rank way up there on my list of favorite contemporary writers, but the last couple of books that I have read by him have left me feeling rather-- eh. I used to feel like he was a more literary Carl Hiaasen, whom I greatly admire, but, with the exception of the extraordinary book Lamb, my more recent reading has rendered Moore no more than on par with Hiaasen (although his name is considerably easier to spell).

After reading the book, I'm still not sure who the "sequined love nun" is. I assume it is Beth, the Sky Priestess, although she ain't a nun, never did anything remotely nunly, and only appeared in sequins once. The book does take place on an island in Micronesia, so the Island part is accurate.

Love Nun is the story of Tucker Case, a womanizing screw-up pilot who begins the novel with his biggest screw up ever. While drunk, he crashes the plane of his Mary Kay-like employer, injuring the hooker passenger, and ramming a lever on the instrument panel through his naked love pump not once but twice. Broken, unemployed, and impotent. Ain't no way to go through life.

Mysterious circumstances land him on the island of Alualu, home of the Shark People and a cargo cult centering around an American WWII pilot/Jesus figure named Vincent and the beautiful naked Sky Princess painted on the nose of his bomber. An American missonary doctor and his wife have hired Tuck as their pilot and offered to pay him so generously that their intentions can only be criminal. But when he arrives (on a 20-foot boat with a cross-dressing navigator and a talking fruitbat during a monsoon) he finds that they have appropriated the native's mythology and Beth has assumed the identity of the Sky Princess.

It's fun, it's funny, and the writing is still excellent. But Moore's usual semi-magical realism feels more like a stretch in this one.

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