In Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job, published in 2006, Moore takes a self-proclaimed beta male and turns him into the hero of the story. This is something that Moore excels at; taking average men dealing with average personality hang ups and making them so loveable that the reader hangs on every word waiting for their inevitable happy ending.
The book is about Charlie Asher who we meet while he is marveling over his perfect wife and newborn baby. Despite the fact that he is living the American dream, Asher is paranoid and jumpy. He does not expect his happiness to last and therefore cannot calm down to enjoy it. Unfortunately, Asher is right to be so fearful because his wife is dead by the end of the first chapter.
The beginning of the story is one that we’ve all read in books or seen in movies before. The mother dies in childbirth leaving the clueless father to fend for himself. However, the plot of this story is no lifetime movie. Asher may find a way to live on and love again, but that is not the only story Moore is telling.
Moore weaves together a story about family and love. But the main plot is about death, loss, and fighting to stay alive. Although many stories have lead us to believe that there is one Death, moving around the world collecting people’s souls when they die, Moore tells us a different story.
The dirty job that Moore refers to in the title is the task of being death, or one of many deaths. In the book, once a person passes on, their soul is left behind in an object; it can be as simple as a CD or a porcelain frog statue. It is then the job of a Death to take this object and pass it along to someone else. This is how souls move through our world. Asher, the owner of a thrift store that he inherited from his father, has the perfect occupation to support his new assignment.
Of course, there would not be much of a plot if this job were easy and Asher didn’t have enemies to fight him every step of the way. Demons from hell may come up out of the shadows every once in a while, but Asher keeps his humor and self-deprecating beta ways. Asher makes the reader gasp in worry right before they laugh out loud.