I’ve read and reviewed Moore before and he is a hilarious author, though he can be a bit hit and miss for me – sometimes I can’t put his books down and sometimes I can see that they’re funny but I don’t actually have a reaction to it. This one hit the spot.
It’s the story of Sam Hunter, a Crow (the Native American, not the bird) who left the reservation at a young age and became a successful insurance sales man in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, Sam’s spirit guide is the trickster Coyote, who decides to enter his life in a major way.
I read this after a bit of a Native American book kick (The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian and Navajo Weapons, both excellent) and it rounded out the trio rather well. It’s a fictional work (the other two are quasi-fictional and non-fiction) and though Sam’s relationship with his Crow heritage is focused on, the focus comes more on his spiritual connection and reconnecting with who he is, rather than what it actually means to be Native American or exploring Native American traditions in detail.
I also liked that Moore pulled from a tradition that is largely ignored in the literature scene, though I can’t say I learned a large amount about the Crow people or their religion. However, Moore did use it to explore something that is both familiar and foreign to every American without romanticizing the culture or othering his main characters. They were the same wacky everyman that Moore generally writes about. Sam’s struggle with his heritage and going home, while unique to his situation, is something most people can identify with. (Though, generally not with a crazy spirit guide leading the action.)
That being said, I did like Anasazi Boys more in terms of using a religious or folklore tradition not usually scene within Western literature. Coyote Blue was still really good, though, don’t get me wrong.
The plot was fast-paced but not terribly convoluted. I had an easy enough time following it and by about halfway through the book, I had reached a “can’t-put-down” state of reading. Moore used flashbacks and storytelling to great effect – though I like short legends interspersed throughout, I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks but his usage didn’t bother me.
The characters were actually very well-done. I wanted to hate Sam, but instead found myself rooting for him. Calliope should have come off as annoying but instead came off as sympathetic. And Coyote – you wanted to pity him but rather found yourself amused by his bravado. Some of the side characters were a little too caricature-ish for my tastes, but they didn’t play prominent enough roles for me to get annoyed by it.
The humor was good, though expect it to get a tad crude or violent at times (nothing too horrible!). There are a few one-liners you’ll want to quote to your friends and more than one scene where I found myself chuckling in public, though not outright laughing.
Overall, if you like comedic fantasy and you’re looking for something bright, funny, and a bit different, you should definitely check this out! If you’re into a humor that’s more wit and wordplay than zany wackiness, or if a hard-to-like main character isn’t your thing, then, alas, this may not be the book for you!