RTW: In the Moment

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: A long-awaited kiss, a surprise ending, a character's sudden decision… these are the moments that make us smile, gasp, and LOVE a book for the rest of our lives.
What is your favorite literary moment?

All the specific examples I could think of for this were too spoilery (the squiggly red underline said spoilery is not a word, but I flashed it my literary license), so I had to think in more general terms.

What came to mind is Christopher Moore's mastery of absurd humor that turns expectations on their head. I love all his books, but the one that best demonstrates it is A Dirty Job. The MC is Charlie, who lost his wife just after she gave birth to their child. As if that wasn't dark enough, Charlie has just been recruited as a Death, one of many reapers that hold onto souls until they move on. Only he doesn't know about his new role right away, and his grief over his wife is interrupted and complicated by all the weird things happening to him now.

My favorite scene is when Charlie goes over to a home to assess some clothing for his thrift shop. An elderly man takes Charlie into his late wife's closet, where in his own grief the old man says he wants to die. Charlie can absolutely sympathize--he still misses his wife, who "still occupied that place in his heart, and when he turned in the kitchen to say something to her and she wasn't there, it took his breath."

The old man is trying to speak through his own grief to tell Charlie about his wife, and finally gets out, "She was so phenomenally stupid."

They then have an exchange wherein it's revealed the old man's wife died of eating the silica gel packets (yes, the ones that say "do not eat" right on them) and the internal dialogue as Charlie processes this is hilarious. Even if I transcribed the entire scene here, it wouldn't have the same impact, so I guess you'll have to take my word for it or read the book yourself. I highly recommend it!

Don't forget to go to the comments on the YA Highway RTW post to see everyone else's answers!


Jaime Morrow said...

Silica gel packets? Aren't those the little things that you find in shoeboxes and other things they're trying to protect from who knows what? I always toss those out right away because I'm scared my cats will eat them lol :D

Colin Smith said...

I don't think I've ever heard of Christopher Moore, or these books. I must investigate--sounds interesting! Thanks, Angelica!

Crystal said...

I haven't read this, but reading this line choked me up a little: "still occupied that place in his heart, and when he turned in the kitchen to say something to her and she wasn't there, it took his breath."

I totally lose it over any story where a wife or husband dies. Then I hug my husband as much as possible for at least the next 24 hours--which is really a lot of hugging, because I already hug him more than is normal on a daily basis.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Jaime-I'm just perverse enough that I want to eat them, just because they say not to

Colin-I think you'd dig his sense of humor, but there are definitely some crude parts, be warned

Crystal-I know that description sounds very dark, but that's where he shows his mastery. He has those genuine, relatable, human moments--and then slaps you in the face with a pee-yourself hilarious take on things right afterwards.

Cheryl Reif said...

I, too, love that line. It sounds like the scene is a mix of humor and pain--which is the best way to write about pain sometimes. Sigh, I'm adding this to my overlong to-read list.

I think I need to take a reading vacation!

ka.thy br.adey said...

I second Colin. Never heard of this author or these books. I love the line about occupying a place in his heart.

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

I (like the above posters) hadn't heard of these books/this author, but it sounds like he mixes humor/pain/absurdity well. And good for you for saying spoilery is a word. I concur!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I know it's impossible to keep track of every author and book, but I'm actually surprised that y'all haven't even heard of Christopher Moore. He's had 11 NYT bestsellers!

And yes, I realize the hypocrisy of my saying this when 99.5% of my reading for the last two years has been YA, and I'm not even sure where they moved the adult fiction in our library. ;)

But really, his books have a somewhat twisted sense of humor that a lot of people obviously relate to.

Unknown said...

Catching up from last week! I just love the cover for this book! Also, phenomenally stupid seems about right, even if it's still sad. Maybe she was one of those who 'serve as a warning to others'. This is a great literary moment, and sounds like a really funny book.

Mine was over a few books, and is here: http://dverted.blogspot.com/2012/03/rtw-those-magic-moments.html

Post a Comment