If writers are my rock stars, Christopher Moore is my Jagger. So when I heard that he would be at the Brookline Booksmith on April 2 to promote his new novel, Bite Me, I took the day off work, drove an hour, paid meter parking, and waited in two lines.
How was it? As his narrator, 16-year-old Goth Abby Normal, would say, he rocked my stripey socks.
First, he was late. But, in all fairness, he had to get there from Boston in Good Friday traffic. Among his easy-going, devoted fans, only one beefy gent complained about a minor inconvenience that no one could control. The rest of us did Madlibs with the staff. We used plenty of word substitutes from Moore's work: sequined love nun, Minty Fresh, shaved vampire cat. The usual.
Moore called from the road and greeted us via the store manager's cell phone:
Moore: "Hello everyone."
Us: "Hello Chris/Christopher/Mr. Moore/Man!"
Moore: "So... what are you wearing?"
Once he arrived, he explained to us newbies that he does not do readings at his readings. He would entertain us for a while, answer questions, then sign books and take pictures. He said it would be like sex, with him smelling like magic marker at the end. I guess that made us his groupies.
In the used-book basement of an indie bookstore, while drinking coffee and taking pictures (with flash!), Moore opened up to his fans. We heard the stuff of legend. Did you know you could have fake testicles — nu-ticals — implanted, like they do for neutered dogs? Moore's got seven of them! (Sadly, we could not take pictures, even without flash.) The man who rewrote King Lear from the point of view of the Fool sold insurance before writing black-comedy novels. The lack of controversy over Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend disappoints him to this day. (Ironically, on that Good Friday, Lamb sold out. Also, at the end of this hysterically funny book, religious or not, you will cry.) To create the voice of Abby Normal for his second vampire book, You Suck (the sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends), he risked an FBI raid to find inspiration on Goth teen message boards. For Bite Me, the last of the trilogy of non-sparkly vamps, he discovered that those same message boards were gone, the underworld moderators presumably having grown up and moved on. The lack of intelligent, literate creativity (however mopey) saddens him. How else could a middle-aged man have brought this to life: "I started to feel like a malodorous soupcon of mashed assholes, as Lautreamont so aptly put it." (See his recent HuffPo piece about the Web-based, linguistic can of woop-ass the digital natives are pioneering).
Moore turned out to be quite the sweet talker, too. He probably tells all the regions this, but he said he loves the Northeast the most for the book-smart types (or, as the Midwest calls us, commie liberals) and asked if it bothered us Bostonians that the Tea Partiers have so dubbed themselves.
Moore: "Good, cuz they're stupid."
After about an hour he promised that his future work will contain more heinous fuckery most foul (i.e., messed-up situations), and the line reformed throughout the store for the signing. Those who could not fit into the basement to hear him speak were first in line, fairly. We waited about two hours, browsing through fiction, bargain, and biography. Suddenly, it was my turn. The Man was right in front of me. I had my brand new copy of Bite Me open and my boyfriend readying the camera. I managed to not fall to my knees and chant "I'm not worthy" or "Ohmygod I've read, like, all your books." I may be one of his biggest fans, but I didn't want to show it.
Moore made it easy. He thanked us for coming, signed the book, and joked with us. He's approachable, friendly, and talkative. And, unlike useless famous actors and singers that people usually worship, he didn't have a handler nearby with a headset saying, "Please do not touch Mr. Moore." That helped, too. But I still asked if it would, um, be ok if I could have my picture taken with him. He not only said of course, he offered to make a funny face. Just as I had made it through acting cool, my boyfriend ratted me out. Told him I'd read all the books, that I've waited months to see him, and skipped work. Moore thought I deserved free stuff for that and gave me a little black promotional t-shirt with the book's title written across the front. That's probably when I let loose the "ohmygodthankyouthankyou," and proceeded to literally skip out the front door.
Now my book reads "OMFG, Christopher Moore," my chest reads "Bite Me," and the next time he's around to promote his next book, I'll be there.