doth a bangup job

A Dirty Job

A Dirty Job is the ninth novel by Christopher Moore, published in 2006. While reflecting the author's absurdist tendencies, the content of the novel draws in no small part from his own experiences in tending to the needs of close family and friends who were in the stages of dying.


The story centers on Charlie Asher, a "beta-male" (as opposed to "alpha male") who leads a satisfying life as the owner and proprietor of a second-hand store in San Francisco. At the moment when his wife Rachel unexpectedly dies in the hospital shortly after the birth of their first child (Sophie), Charlie becomes involved in a new sideline of retrieving the souls of the dying, so as to protect them from the forces of the underworld. He only gradually realizes the ramifications of this business as various clues and complications unfold. Ultimately Charlie resolves to confront directly the forces of darkness.


Like all of Christopher Moore's other novels, this one is humanistic, with the everyman characters coming out in triumph, and slightly absurdist, with odd situations, gags and sexual jokes.

A running theme of the novel is the notion of the human "beta-male" (Moore's concept), who is inferior in social status and strength to the alpha-male, but who survives by the sheer power of imagination. The book claims to be, in part, a historical and psychological analysis of the "beta-male".

The novel nods to ancient texts such as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. A Dirty Job also invokes mythological creatures such as the Morrigan, and invents a new type of re-animated life-form based on the "Curious Monstrosities" of Monique Motil, to elaborate the plot.

Movie Rights and Popularity

Shortly after its release, A Dirty Job reached 9th place on the New York Times Best Seller list. An unabridged commercial compact disc recording of A Dirty Job has been issued with narration by Fisher Stevens. As of August 2006 the motion picture rights have been acquired by Chris Columbus and his company, 1492 Productions. In October A Dirty Job won the 2006 Quill Award in the category of General Fiction.

Appearances of characters from previous novels

A few characters from Moore's earlier novels continue their lives in this story: Minty Fresh from Coyote Blue and, because of the story's San Francisco setting (where Bloodsucking Fiends took place), Jody (unnamed in a cameo appearance), The Emperor (and his two "soldiers", Bummer and Lazarus), and the detectives Alphonse Rivera and Nick Cavuto. Jody's meeting with Charlie Asher is also shown, from her perspective, in You Suck: A Love Story, the continuation of Bloodsucking Fiends.

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