Relatively early in Christopher Moore’s heartwarming tale of Christmas terror titled The Stupidest Angel, he notes:
According to the DSM-IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you had to have at least two of a number of symptoms in order to be considered as having a psychotic episode, or, as Molly liked to think of it, an “artistic” moment.
Molly is Kendra, the Warrior Babe of the Outland, but that’s her stage name. She’s Molly Michon. Her days as a B-movie queen during which she starred in eight films as an under-dressed, sword-wielding, well, warrior babe are long over. Still fit, she could pass for thirty “depending on the time of day, what she was wearing, and how deeply medicated she was.” In fact, she is in her early forties.
That point about medication is pertinent here. For the past five years, Molly’s been married to Theo, a pretty happy marriage based on his swearing off his long, deep pot habit and on her swearing on her religious use of her anti-psychotic medicines.
But, now, in a cute twist on the old O. Henry story, Theo, the lanky 6’6” constable in the small “toy town” of Pine Grove midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the Pacific, is growing a huge crop of pot to have the money to buy an ancient Japanese sword for her. Molly has gone off her meds to save money to buy him an elegant bong, leading to a variety of “artistic” moments which end up with Theo being thrown out of the house and back on the weed.
And that’s not all.
“The batshit column”
As Moore notes, there is an exception to the DSM-IV requirement of two symptoms — “a single symptom that could put you in the batshit column, and that was ‘a voice or voices commenting on the activities of daily life.’ ”
Meet the Narrator.
Off her medications, Molly has conversations with the Narrator who usually makes more sense than she does. Such as his very sensible suggestion when Molly is having hot chocolate with the Archangel Raziel.
I see I’m going to have to explain that.
“The better part of a bucket”
First, the tall, incredibly handsome angel is not an hallucination. He’s been sent to earth to answer a child’s wish with a Christmas miracle.
The problem, however, is that he is incredibly dim. Indeed, he’s the stupidest angel of the title of Moore’s 2004 book.
As far as things “dirtside” went, he liked Snickers bars, barbecued pork ribs, and pinochle; he also enjoyed Spider-Man, Days of Our Lives, and Star Wars (although the concept of a fictional film eluded the angel and he thought they were all documentaries); and you just couldn’t beat raining fire on the Egyptians or smiting the bejeezus out of some Philistines with lightning bolts….
(There is little variety of flavors in heaven, and an abundance of bland white cake has been served to the heavenly host over the eons, so Raziel had fallen in the habit of tasting things while dirtside, just for contrast. Once, in the third century B.C., he had consumed the better part of a bucket of camel urine before his friend the Archangel Zoe slapped it out of his hand and informed him that it was, despite the piquant bouquet, nasty.)
“The wrong city”
Raziel had gotten himself in trouble in Moore’s book Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal when he showed up ten years late for the birth of Jesus.
And, now, he’s got this Christmas miracle to do, and it seemed too complicated. In fact, he was wishing he could trade it in for the destruction of a city.
That was so simple. You found the city, you killed all the people, you leveled all the buildings, even if you totally screwed it up you could track down the survivors in the hills and kill them with as sword, which, in truth, Raziel kind of enjoyed.
Unless, of course, you destroyed the wrong city, and he’d only done that what? Twice?
“Counting the marshmallows”
In any case, Molly has just beaten Raziel in a sword fight, running him through with that ancient Japanese sword, to which he responded, “Ouch.”
Now, lured by her offer of hot chocolate and minimarshmallows, Raziel is opening envelopes of the powdered mix to pick out the tiny marshmallows and drop them into his steaming mug. At which point the Narrator tells Molly:
“Kill him while he’s counting the marshmallows,” said the Narrator. “He’s a mutant. No angel could be that stupid. Kill him, you crazy bitch, he’s the enemy.”
Later, he adds: “He has the attention span of a hummingbird. Put him out of his misery.”
That’s a lot about Raziel and Molly (and the Narrator), but I haven’t told you about how the evil developer dies or the aging athlete or the guy in the red Star Trek shirt. And the violent death of Santa.
And I haven’t told you about the cute way Lena Marquez and Tucker Case meet and sort of fall in love (or, at least, lust) or about Tucker’s talking fruit bat Roberto.
Or about the scientific experiments that biologist Gabe Fenton has set up in an effort to forget the loss of his longtime girlfriend psychiatrist Val Riordan or about their makeup tryst in the cemetery where, like characters from Our Town, the dead comment on Val’s clothing, adding, “Who would have thought a shrink could moan like that.”
And I haven’t told you anything else about that little community of dead there underground. Or the somewhat chaotic community of zombies who bedevil about forty people attending a pre-Christmas party in a historic church building.
Or the brain-eating.
Which may sound like a bummer ending to a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror.
However, as someone once said, “All’s well that ends well.”
Patrick T. Reardon
This was my second time reading this book. If you want to read my review of the book when I read it in 2016, click here.