Christopher Moore,
Coyote Blue
(Avon, 1996)

Trickster gods disrupt the order and spread chaos; they are lewd, rude and crude, allowing by their antisocial behavior a relief for the audiences hearing the tales of their exploits, relief from the stresses of following the proper codes of conduct within a society. Coyote is such a one as these. He is feared and revered by the Navajo, and the Hopi have little to no use for him except as a walking example of how not to live. To the Crow, or one Crow in particular, he is a pain, bane and supreme nuisance, but ultimately a lifesaver (which is also a role of the Trickster, as benefactor to humankind).

In Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue, Sam Hunter learns all about one Trickster deity in a series of absolutely hilariously chaotic adventures that teaches some profound lessons to all involved, including the reader.

A vision quest for young Samson Hunts Alone introduces him to a very unlikely totem: a fat white man in a blue polyester suit driving a Caddy. Then the boy's life starts to get strange. Forced to flee the Montana reservation by tragic events, he has to change to fit into an almost alien world. We catch up with him 20 years later in Los Angeles. Financially and socially secure, Sam Hunter the yuppie insurance salesman bears little resemblance to his former self. His organized, perfect life is due for a big dose of chaos from Old Man Coyote -- which Sam gets in spades. Enter a blonde bombshell and a crazy old shapeshifter, and suddenly our hero has lost it all and must go seeking his destiny whether he wants to or not. I won't tell you any more; just expect the unexpected. You won't be disappointed.

Moore, who wrote Practical DemonKeeping and several other wonderful odysseys into the fantastic including Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, has captured the traditional spirit of Coyote and successfully translated it into the modern world. Whether or not one is familiar with the numerous folktales of the Divine Trickster, Old Man Coyote will spring from the pages with a vengeance and vitality, an authenticity that connects the old stories to the new.

Much of this is due to the very depth with which Moore imbues the story. On the surface, it is a rollicking and rowdy read that could stand alone; beneath that however, he has instilled within Coyote's foolish-seeming banter impressive life lessons that would leave Carlos Casteneda eating his heart out.

The spirituality of the book plus the excellent story written in Moore's brilliantly hilarious prose combine into one hell of a book. Trickster gods -- can't live with them; can't get rid of them. But then, after reading this book, who would want to?

[ by Debbie Gayle Rose ]

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