I’m kind of all over the place in the world of Christopher Moore. He’s published fourteen novels to date, and as of a month ago I had read twelve of them. But for some reason I’m just now getting to Coyote Blue, Moore’s second published novel.
Coyote Blue tells the story of Sam Hunter, a confident insurance salesman in California who, on the surface, has everything he could want. He’s a successful salesman precisely because he is able to adapt his persona to whatever would be most pleasing to his audience (a personality shape-shifter, if you will). In fact, we learn that twenty years earlier, Sam Hunter was actually Samson Hunts Alone, of Crow descent, until he fled his reservation and his roots at the age of 15 after an unfortunate encounter with the law. His life is perfectly happy, if banal, until he falls in love with the beautiful Calliope. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Native American god Coyote (the trickster) shows up to “help.”
You can see where this is going, no doubt. Coyote’s idea of helping is to turn Sam’s life upside down, create chaos, and force Sam to figure out what is truly important to him. The result is all very. . .how else can I say it. . .amusing. I chuckled, I smiled, and that’s great. That’s one of the reasons I pick up a novel by Christopher Moore. But I was kind of surprised that this early novel is essentially a romantic comedy. My biggest complaint is that, as in most romantic comedies, the leads fall in love pretty much at first sight without any really compelling reason. Seeing a beautiful woman and being thunderstruck is a lazy shortcut to actual character development, and I was disappointed that Moore went there. Of all the Moore novels I’ve read, this is the one that I could characterize as, well, “charming.” That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not what I necessarily expect from him.
If you are looking for a light read to make you smile, this could fit the bill. But if you haven’t read anything else by Christopher Moore, don’t start with Coyote Blue. For new readers who really want to see what Moore can do, start with Lamb or A Dirty Job, both brilliant and thoughtful as well as very, very funny.