The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove

( 108 )

Overview

The town psychiatrist has decided to switch everybody in Pine Cove, California, from their normal antidepressants to placebos, so naturally—well, to be accurate, artificially—business is booming at the local blues bar. Trouble is, those lonely slide-guitar notes have also attracted a colossal sea beast named Steve with, shall we say, a thing for explosive oil tanker trucks. Suddenly, morose Pine Cove turns libidinous and is hit by a mysterious crime wave, and a beleaguered constable has to fight off his own gonzo...

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Overview

The town psychiatrist has decided to switch everybody in Pine Cove, California, from their normal antidepressants to placebos, so naturally—well, to be accurate, artificially—business is booming at the local blues bar. Trouble is, those lonely slide-guitar notes have also attracted a colossal sea beast named Steve with, shall we say, a thing for explosive oil tanker trucks. Suddenly, morose Pine Cove turns libidinous and is hit by a mysterious crime wave, and a beleaguered constable has to fight off his own gonzo appetites to find out what's wrong and what, if anything, to do about it.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
You can't judge a book by its cover, but what about its title? The same day that I finished Kai Bird's The Color of Truth, a masterpiece account of the JFK-era State Department, I found in my mailbox my next review assignment, a novel called The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Grove.

The...what? I thought. Still riveted by images of the major decisions behind the Vietnam War, I'm suddenly reading a comedic investigative mystery about a sea monster named Steve.

That's right, a sea monster.

Named Steve.

Here's the first line of Chapter One: "As dead people went, Bess Leander smelled pretty good." See, Bess, a rather typical middle-class housewife, has seen fit to hang herself in her dining room. (Major plot point: Bess was previously being treated with antidepressants.) Shortly thereafter, I'm introduced to Theo, a local police chief who grows marijuana in his backyard; Molly, an over-the-hill psychotic scream queen who bites people when slighted; a tavern called The Head of the Slug; a pharmacist with a romantic proclivity for dolphins; and, to synopsize, a novel whose thematics revolve around...Prozac.

Now, let me try to write this review.

Pine Cove might be an ordinary California town, but Dr. Val Riordan, the local shrink, is hardly your ordinary psychiatrist. One day, she goes a bit off and decides that antidepressant drugs (like Prozac, Effexor, and Zoloft) actually cause depressed patients (like Bess Leander) to commit suicide. So she switches all of her patients' medications with useless sugar pills...neglecting, of course, to tell thepatients.Hence, the main catalyst of this novel.

Meanwhile, Theo, our perpetually stoned cop, can't help but notice the seemingly instantaneous upsurge of violence, crime, missing persons, and overall whacked-out behavior amongst the normally sedate populace. There also seems to be an upsurge in, uh, sexual behavior.

What's going on here?

Well, a lot. A minuscule leak of radioactive waste water from a nearby nuclear power plant revives a prehistoric sea monster. Named Steve. (Well, actually, it's the psychotic scream queen who names the sea beast, after her long-dead goldfish.) Anyway, Steve decides to slake his hunger (and, regrettably, his lust) on (you guessed it) the tranquil seaside town of Pine Cove. Why exactly has Steve decided to rear his brontosaurine head over Pine Cove?

Only the mysterious blues guitarist knows for sure....

Weird enough yet? The press release for this book describes it as "Godzilla" meets The Bridges of Madison County. I'd say that's a proper analogy. And as for weird book titles, here are some others by author Christopher Moore: Practical Demonkeeping, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nun. In addition to these titles, acclaimed Strip Tease author Carl Hiaasen describes Moore as "a very sick man," but "in the very best sense of the word." How's that for an endorsement!

See, Lust Lizard is a crazy book about crazy people in a crazy world. It's about the sheer abnormality of normalcy.

It's also about Prozac. And a sea monster named —

well, I've already been over that. Moore's creative result proves to be the weirdest novels I've ever read and also, easily, one of the funniest. The story has as many personalities as its characters have personality disorders. Part mystery, part postmodern fable, part hallucinotic comedy, Lust Lizard is about what might happen to "regular" people when they are divorced from the "regular" things in our society. No one's really regular to begin with, but that's Moore's point. There's more social allegory and encrypted symbolism in this book than you can shake a copy of Kafka's The Metamorphosis at. It's also so funny you'll be laughing yourself to tears. Lines like "I've never kissed a guy with assistant principal on his breath" and a scene in which a 75-foot sea monster tries to have intercourse with a gasoline truck are only the first lap of this erotomanic, pop-bizarro, off-the-wall psychotropic joyride.

Risking brain damage and likely schizophrenic episodes, I'm going to go back and read all of Moore's previous work, and as for the Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, don't miss it unless you want to miss what is thus far 1999's funniest and most uniquely entertaining novel.

Er, wait a minute. Maybe I didn't really read this book. Maybe it doesn't really exist.

Maybe somebody spiked my Prozac with LSD....

— Edward Lee

Playboy
If there's a funnier writer out there, step forward.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With in-your-face, South Park-worthy humor that only once slips into the truly offensive, Moore (Island of the Sequined Love Nun) has written the definitive Prozac allegory. Like its Puff-the-Libidinous-Dragon protagonist Steve, this novel delightfully runs roughshod over trailer parks, scrip-happy psychiatrists, right-wing moralists and "nuked-out future movie" stars with laugh-aloud wit and gentle affection. Pine Cove is a Pacific coast town of 5000--a third of whom Dr. Valerie Riordan has rendered dependent on antidepressants. When obsessive-compulsive Bess Leander is found hanged from a calico cloth rope, a possible suicide, Val fears she has been overmedicating, and she blackmails fish-fetishist pharmacist Winston Krauss into giving all antidepressant users placebos instead. As the antidepressants wear off, a hilariously uncontrollable erotic revolution takes place in the formerly groggy and dispirited population. A simultaneous nuclear plant leak into the ocean awakens serotonin-deficit sea beast Steve, who descends on the town, disguised occasionally as a double-wide mobile home. When the doper constable and the methamphetamine-peddling sheriff duke it out, creating chaos instead of restoring order, we learn our lesson about better living through pharmaceuticals. Moore is Daniel Pinkwater for grownups, but a lot funnier; and his irreverent antics reveal a buoyant wit and surreal authority even while rendering the emotional range, sex life, and murderous tendencies of a sea monster. Agent: Nick Ellison. Author tour. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Godzilla comes to Pine Cove, nestled somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in Moore's latest foray into the zany and the zonked. If Steve Martin ever wrote a novel, it might be something like Moore's farcical labors in the field of psychotropic fiction. Here, one knows from the start that not only is nothing sacred to the author but also that nothing is important, and by mid-novel you're doubtful that anything life-changing will come of this bemused cartooning. Even so, Moore's latest is marginally less sick and more serious than 1997's Island of the Sequined Love Nun. It's September in Pine Cove. Cleaning freak Bess Leander has just hung herself. Investigating is stoned constable Theophilus Crowe. Meanwhile, Bess's therapist, Valerie Riordan, who counsels a large number of the town's population and keeps them tranquilized on a variety of psychotropics, gets scared by the statistic that 15 percent of all depressed people commit suicide. This means that perhaps more than 200 of her patients are slated for self-exit, despite her widely dispensed pills — for which she gets a kickback from the local druggist, a dolphin fetishist. When her qualms overcome her, Val instructs the druggist to replace the pills with placebos. As autumn leaves fall, her patients go into withdrawal and self-medicate, en masse, with alcohol. What's more, elderly Delta guitarist Catfish Jefferson has just been hired to play at the Head of the Slug Saloon, where his marvelously sad blues add to the local scene's seductive narcosis. Fifty years ago down on the Delta, Catfish first met the Sea Beast, a hundred-foot creature that loved his steel guitar and that has now risen from the depths,awakened by a sexy nuclear radiation leak, to blister the countryside with radiant energies of lust.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060735456
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/25/2004
  • Series: Pine Cove Series , #2
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 245,056
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is the author of twelve previous novels: Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Lamb, Fluke, The Stupidest Angel, A Dirty Job, You Suck, Fool, and Bite Me. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Biography

A 100-year-old ex-seminarian and a demon set off together on a psychotic road trip...

Christ's wisecracking childhood pal is brought back from the dead to chronicle the Messiah's "missing years"...

A mild-mannered thrift shop owner takes a job harvesting souls for the Grim Reaper...

Whence come these wonderfully weird scenarios? From the fertile imagination of Christopher Moore, a cheerfully demented writer whose absurdist fiction has earned him comparisons to master satirists like Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams.

Ever since his ingenious debut, 1992's Practical Demonkeeping, Moore has attracted an avid cult following. But, over the years, as his stories have become more multi-dimensional and his characters more morally complex, his fan base has expanded to include legions of enthusiastic general readers and appreciative critics.

Asked where his colorful characters come from, Moore points to his checkered job resume. Before becoming a writer, he worked at various times as a grocery clerk, an insurance broker, a waiter, a roofer, a photographer, and a DJ -- experiences he has mined for a veritable rogue's gallery of unforgettable fictional creations. Moreover, to the delight of hardcore fans, characters from one novel often resurface in another. For example, the lovesick teen vampires introduced in 1995's Bloodsucking Fiends are revived (literally) for the 2007 sequel You Suck -- which also incorporates plot points from 2006's A Dirty Job.

For a writer of satirical fantasy, Moore is a surprisingly scrupulous researcher. In pursuit of realistic details to ground his fiction, he has been known to immerse himself in marine biology, death rituals, Biblical scholarship, and Goth culture. He has been dubbed "the thinking man's Dave Barry" by none other than The Onion, a publication with a particular appreciation of smart humor.

As for story ideas, Moore elaborates on his website: "Usually [they come] from something I read. It could be a single sentence in a magazine article that kicks off a whole book. Ideas are cheap and easy. Telling a good story once you get an idea is hard." Perhaps. But, to judge from his continued presence on the bestseller lists, Chris Moore appears to have mastered the art.

Good To Know

In researching his wild tales, Moore has done everything from taking excursions to the South Pacific to diving with whales. So what is left for the author to tackle? He says he'd like to try riding an elephant.

One of the most memorably weird moments in Moore's body of work is no fictional invention. The scene in Bloodsucking Fiendswhere the late-night crew of a grocery store bowls with frozen turkeys is based on Moore's own experiences bowling with frozen turkeys while working the late shift at a grocery store.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hawaii and San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 5, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Toledo, Ohio

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


Theophilus Crowe


As dead people went, Bess Leander smelled pretty good: lavender, sage, and a hint of clove. There were seven Shaker chairs hung on pegs on the walls of the Leanders' dining room. The eighth was overturned under Bess, who hung from the peg by a calico cloth rope around her neck. Dried flowers, baskets of various shapes and sizes, and bundles of dried herbs hung from the open ceiling beams.

    Theophilus Crowe knew he should be doing cop stuff, but he just stood there with two emergency medical technicians from the Pine Cove Fire Department, staring up at Bess as if they were inspecting the newly installed angel on a Christmas tree. Theo thought the pastel blue of Bess's skin went nicely with her cornflower-blue dress and the patterns of the English china displayed on simple wooden shelves at the end of the room. It was 7 A.M. and Theo, as usual was a little stoned.

    Theo could hear sobs coming from upstairs, where Joseph Leander held his two daughters, who were still in their nightgowns. There was no evidence of a masculine presence anywhere in the house. It was Country Cute: bare pine floors and bent willow baskets, flowers and rag dolls and herb-flavored vinegars in blown-glass bottles; Shaker antiques, copper kettles, embroidery samplers, spinning wheels, lace doilies, and porcelain placards with prayers from the Dutch. Not a sports page or remote control in sight. Not a thing out of place or a speck of dust anywhere. Joseph Leander must have walked very light to live in this house without leaving tracks. A man lesssensitive than Theo might have called him whipped.

    "That guy's whipped," one of the EMTs said. His name was Vance McNally. He was fifty-one, short and muscular, and wore his hair slicked back with oil, just as he had in high school. Occasionally, in his capacity as an EMT, he saved lives, which was his rationalization for being a dolt the rest of the time.

    "He just found his wife hanging in the dining room, Vance," Theo pronounced over the heads of the EMTs. He was six-foot-six, and even in his flannel shirt and sneakers he could loom large when he needed to assert some authority.

    "She looks like Raggedy Ann," said Mike, the other EMT, who was in his early twenties and excited to be on his first suicide call.

    "I heard she was Amish," Vance said.

    "She's not Amish," Theo said.

    "I didn't say she was Amish, I just said I heard that. I figured she wasn't Amish when I saw the blender in the kitchen. Amish don't believe in blenders, do they?"

    "Mennonite," Mike said with as much authority as his junior status would afford.

    "What's a Mennonite?" Vance asked.

    "Amish with blenders."

    "She wasn't Amish," Theo said.

    "She looks Amish," Vance said.

    "Well, her husband's not Amish," Mike said.

    "How can you tell?" Vance said. "He has a beard."

    "Zipper on his jacket," Mike said. "Amish don't have zippers."

    Vance shook his head. "Mixed marriages. They never work."

    "She wasn't Amish!" Theo shouted.

    "Think what you want, Theo, there's a butter chum in the living room. I think that says it all."

    Mike rubbed at a mark on the wall beneath Bess's feet where her black buckled shoes had scraped as she convulsed.

    "Don't touch anything," Theo said.

    "Why? She can't yell at us, she's dead. We wiped our feet on the way in," Vance said.

    Mike stepped away from the wall. "Maybe she couldn't stand anything touching her floors. Hanging was the only way."

    Not to be outdone by the detective work of his protégé, Vance said, "You know, the sphincters usually open up on a hanging victim—leave an awful mess. I'm wondering if she actually hanged herself."

    "Shouldn't we call the police?" Mike said.

    "I am the police," Theo said. He was Pine Cove's only constable, duly elected eight years ago and reelected every other year thereafter.

    "No, I mean the real police," Mike said.

    "I'll radio the sheriff," Theo said. "I don't think there's anything you can do here, guys. Would you mind calling Pastor Williams from the Presbyterian church to come over? I need to talk to Joseph and I need someone to stay with the girls."

    "They were Presbyterians?" Vance seemed shocked. He had really put his heart into the Amish theory.

    "Please call," Theo said. He left the EMTs and went out through the kitchen to his Volvo, where he switched the radio over to the frequency used by the San Junipero Sheriff's Department, then sat there staring at the mike. He was going to catch hell from Sheriff Burton for this.

    "North Coast is yours, Theo. All yours," the sheriff had said. My deputies will pick up suspects, answer robbery calls, and let the Highway Patrol investigate traffic accidents on Highway 1, that's it. Otherwise, you keep them out of Pine Cove and your little secret stays secret." Theo was forty-one years old and he still felt as if he was hiding from the junior high vice principal, laying low. Things like this weren't supposed to happen in Pine Cove. Nothing happened in Pine Cove.

    He took a quick hit from his Sneaky Pete smokeless pot pipe before keying the mike and calling in the deputies.


    Joseph Leander sat on the edge of the bed. He'd changed out of his pajamas into a blue business suit, but his thinning hair was still sticking out in sleep horns on the side. He was thirty-five, sandy-haired, thin but working on a paunch that strained the buttons of his vest. Theo sat across from him on a chair, holding a notepad. They could hear the sheriff's deputies moving around downstairs.

    "I can't believe she'd do this," Joseph said.

    Theo reached over and squeezed the grieving husband's bicep. "I'm really sorry, Joe. She didn't say anything that would indicate she was thinking about doing something like this?"

    Joseph shook his head without looking up. "She was getting better. Val had given her some pills and she seemed to be getting better."

    "She was seeing Valerie Riordan?" Theo asked. Valerie was Pine Cove's only clinical psychiatrist. "Do you know what kind of pills?"

    "Zoloft," Joseph said. "I think it's an antidepressant."

    Theo wrote down the name of the drug on his notepad. "Then Bess was depressed?"

    "No, she just had this cleaning thing. Everything had to be cleaned every day. She'd clean something, then go back five minutes later and clean it again. She was making life miserable for the girls and me. She'd make us take our shoes and socks off, then wash our feet in a basin before we came into the house. But she wasn't depressed."

    Theo wrote down "crazy" on his notepad. "When was the last time Bess went to see Val?"

    "Maybe six weeks ago. When she first got the pills. She really seemed to be doing better. She even left the dishes in the sink overnight once. I was proud of her."

    "Where are her pills, Joseph?"

    "Medicine cabinet." Joseph gestured to the bathroom.

    Theo excused himself and went to the bathroom. The brown prescription bottle was the only thing in the medicine cabinet other than disinfectants and some Q-Tips. The bottle was about half-full. "I'm going to take these with me," Theo said, pocketing the pills. "The sheriff's deputies are going to ask you some of these same questions, Joseph. You just tell them what you told me, okay?

    Joseph nodded. "I think I should be with the girls."

    "Just a bit longer, okay? I'll send up the deputy in charge."

    Theo heard a car start outside and went to the window to see an ambulance pulling away, the lights and siren off. Bess Leander's body riding off to the morgue. He turned back to Joseph. "Call me if you need anything. I'm going to go talk to Val Riordan."

    Joseph stood up. "Theo, don't tell anyone that Bess was on antidepressants. She didn't want anyone to know. She was ashamed."

    "I won't. Call me if you need me." Theo left the room. A sharply dressed plainclothes deputy met him at the bottom of the steps. Theo saw by the badge on his belt that he was a detective sergeant.

    "You're Crowe. John Voss." He extended his hand and Theo shook it. "We're supposed to take it from here," Voss said. "What have you got?"

    Theo was at once relieved and offended. Sheriff Burton was going to push him off the case without even talking to him. "No note," Theo said. "I called you guys ten minutes after I got the call. Joseph said she wasn't depressed, but she was on medication. He came downstairs to have breakfast and found her."

    "Did you look around?" Voss asked. "This place has been scoured. There isn't a smudge or a spot anywhere. It's like someone cleaned up the scene."

    "She did that," Theo said. "She was a clean freak."

    Voss scoffed. "She cleaned the house, then hung herself? Please."

    Theo shrugged. He really didn't like this cop stuff. "I'm going to go talk to her psychiatrist. I'll let you know what she says."

    "Don't talk to anybody, Crowe. This is my investigation."

    Theo smiled. "Okay. But she hung herself and that's all there is. Don't make it into anything it's not. The family is in pretty bad shape."

    "I'm a professional," Voss said, throwing it like an insult, implying that Theo was just dicking around in law enforcement, which, in a way, he was.

    "Did you check out the Amish cult angle?" Theo asked, trying to keep a straight face. Maybe he shouldn't have gotten-high today.

    "What?"

    "Right, you're the pro," Theo said. "I forgot." And he walked out of the house.

    In the Volvo, Theo pulled the thin Pine Cove phone directory out of the glove compartment and was looking up Dr. Valerie Riordan's number when a call came in on the radio. Fight at the Head of the Slug Saloon. It was 8:30 A.M.


Mavis


It was rumored among the regulars at the Head of the Slug that under Mavis Sand's slack, wrinkled, liver-spotted skin lay the gleaming metal skeleton of a Terminator. Mavis first began augmenting her parts in the fifties, first out of vanity: breasts, eyelashes, hair. Later, as she aged and the concept of maintenance eluded her, she began having parts replaced as they failed, until almost half of her body weight was composed of stainless steel (hips, elbows, shoulders, finger joints, rods fused to vertebrae five through twelve), silicon wafers (hearing aids, pacemaker, insulin pump), advanced polymer resins (cataract replacement lenses, dentures), Kevlar fabric (abdominal wall reinforcement), titanium (knees, ankles), and pork (ventricular heart valve). In fact, if not for the pig valve, Mavis would have jumped classes directly from animal to mineral, without the traditional stop at vegetable taken by most. The more inventive drunks at the Slug (little more than vegetables themselves) swore that sometimes, between songs on the jukebox, one could hear tiny but powerful servomotors whirring Mavis around behind the bar. Mavis was careful never to crush a beer can or move a full keg in plain sight of the customers lest she feed the rumors and ruin her image of girlish vulnerability.

    When Theo entered the Head of the Slug, he saw ex-scream-queen Molly Michon on the floor with her teeth locked into the calf of a gray-haired man who was screeching like a mashed cat. Mavis stood over them both, brandishing her Louisville Slugger, ready to belt one of them out of the park.

    "Theo," Mavis shrilled, "you got ten seconds to get this wacko out of my bar before I brain her."

    "No, Mavis." Theo raced forward and knocked Mavis's bat aside while reaching into his back pocket for his handcuffs. He pried Molly's hands from around the man's ankle and shackled them behind her back. The gray-haired man's screams hit a higher pitch.

    Theo got down on the floor and spoke into Molly's ear. "Let go, Molly. You've got to let go of the man's leg."

    An animal sound emanated from Molly's throat and bubbled out through blood and saliva.

    Theo stroked her hair out of her face. "I can't fix the problem if you don't tell me what it is, Molly. I can't understand you with that guy's leg in your mouth."

    "Stand back, Theo," Mavis said. "I'm going to brain her."

    Theo waved Mavis away. The gray-haired man screamed even louder.

    "Hey!" Theo shouted. "Pipe down. I'm trying to have a conversation here."

    The gray-haired man lowered his volume.

    "Molly, look at me."

    Theo saw a blue eye look away from the leg and the bloodlust faded from it. He had her back. "That's right, Molly. It's me, Theo. Now what's the problem?"

    She spit out the man's leg and turned to look at Theo. Mavis helped the man to a bar stool. "Get her out of here," Mavis said. "She's eighty-sixed. This time forever."

    Theo kept his eyes locked on Molly's. "Are you okay?"

    She nodded. Bloody drool was running down her chin. Theo grabbed a bar napkin and wiped it away, careful to keep his fingers away from her mouth.

    "I'm going to help you up now and we're going to go outside and talk about this, okay?"

    Molly nodded and Theo picked her up by the shoulders, set her on her feet, and steered her toward the door. He looked over his shoulder at the bitten man. "You okay? You need a doctor?"

    "I didn't do anything to her. I've never seen that woman before in my life. I just stopped in for a drink."

    Theo looked at Mavis for confirmation. "He hit on her," Mavis said. "But that's no excuse. A girl should appreciate the attention." She turned and batted her spiderlike false eyelashes at the bitten man. "I could show you some appreciation, sweetie."

    The bitten man looked around in a panic. "No, I'm fine. No doctor. I'm just fine. My wife's waiting for me."

    "As long as you're okay," Theo said. "And you don't want to press charges or anything?"

    "No, just a misunderstanding. Soon as you get her out of here, I'll be heading out of town."

    There was a collective sigh of disappointment from the regulars who had been placing side bets on who Mavis would hit with her bat.

    "Thanks," Theo said. He shot Mavis a surreptitious wink and led Molly out to the street, excusing himself and his prisoner as they passed an old Black man who was coming through the door carrying a guitar case.

    "I 'spose a man run outta sweet talk and liquor, he gots to go to mo' di-rect measures," the old Black man said to the bar with a dazzling grin. "Someone here lookin fo' a Bluesman?"


Molly Michon


Theo put Molly into the passenger side of the Volvo. She sat with her head down, her great mane of gray-streaked blonde hair hanging in her face. She wore an oversized green sweater, tights, and high-top sneakers, one red, one blue. She could have been thirty or fifty—and she told Theo a different age every time he picked her up.

    Theo went around the car and climbed in. He said, "You know, Molly, when you bite a guy on the leg, you're right on the edge of 'a danger to others or yourself,' you know that?"

    She nodded and sniffled. A tear dropped out of the mass of hair and spotted her sweater.

    "Before I start driving, I need to know that you're calmed down. Do I need to put you in the backseat?"

    "It wasn't a fit," Molly said. "I was defending myself. He wanted a piece of me." She lifted her head and turned to Theo, but her hair still covered her face.

    "Are you taking your drugs?"

    "Meds, they call them meds."

    "Sorry," Theo said. "Are you taking your meds?"

    She nodded.

    "Wipe your hair out of your face, Molly, I can barely understand you."

    "Handcuffs, whiz kid."

    Theo almost slapped his forehead: idiot! He really needed to stop getting stoned on the job. He reached up and carefully brushed her hair away from her face. The expression he found there was one of bemusement.

    "You don't have to be so careful. I don't bite."

    Theo smiled. "Well, actually ..."

    "Oh fuck you. You going to take me to County?"

    "Should I?"

    "I'll just be back in seventy-two and the milk in my refrigerator will be spoiled."

    "Then I'd better take you home."

    He started the car and circled the block to head back to the Fly Rod Trailer Court. He would have taken a back way if he could, to save Molly some embarrassment, but the Fly Rod was right off Cypress, Pine Cove's main street. As they passed the bank, people getting out of their cars turned to stare. Molly made faces at them out the window.

    "That doesn't help, Molly."

    "Fuck 'em. Fans just want a piece of me. I can give 'em that. I've got my soul."

    "Mighty generous of you."

    "If you weren't a fan, I wouldn't let you do this."

    "Well, I am. Huge fan." Actually, he'd never heard of her until the first time he was called to take her away from H.P.'s Cafe, where she had attacked the espresso machine because it wouldn't quit staring at her.

    "No one understands. Everyone takes a piece of you, then there's nothing left for you. Even the meds take a piece of you. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about here?"

    Theo looked at her. "I have such a mind-numbing fear of the future that the only way I can function at all is with equal amounts of denial and drugs."

    "Jeez, Theo, you're really fucked up."

    "Thanks."

    "You can't go around saying crazy shit like that."

    "I don't normally. It's been a tough day so far."

    He turned into the Fly Rod Trailer Court: twenty run-down trailers perched on the bank of Santa Rosa Creek, which carried only a trickle of water after the long, dry summer. A grove of cypress trees hid the trailer park from the main street and the view of passing tourists. The chamber of commerce had made the owner of the park take down the sign at the entrance. The Fly Rod was a dirty little secret for Pine Cove, and they kept it well.

    Theo stopped in front of Molly's trailer, a vintage fifties single-wide with small louvered windows and streaks of rust running from the roof. He got Molly out of the car and took off the handcuffs.

    Theo said, "I'm going to see Val Riordan. You want me to have her call something in to the pharmacy for you?"

    "No, I've got my meds. I don't like 'em, but I got 'em." She rubbed her wrists. "Why you going to see Val? You going nuts?"

    "Probably, but this is business. You going to be okay now?"

    "I have to study my lines."

    "Right." Theo started to go, then turned. "Molly, what were you doing at the Slug at eight in the morning?"

    "How should I know?"

    "If the guy at the Slug had been a local, I'd be taking you to County right now, you know that?"

    "I wasn't having a fit. He wanted a piece of me."

    "Stay out of the Slug for a while. Stay home. Just groceries, okay?"

    "You won't talk to the tabloids?"

    He handed her a business card. "Next time someone tries to take a piece of you, call me. I always have the cell phone with me."

    She pulled up her sweater and tucked the card into the waistband of her tights, then, still holding up her sweater, she turned and walked to her trailer with a slow sway. Thirty or fifty, under the sweater she still had a figure. Theo watched her walk, forgetting for a minute who she was. Without looking back, she said, "What if it's you, Theo? Who do I call then?"

    Theo shook his head like a dog trying to clear water from its ears, then crawled into the Volvo and drove away. I've been alone too long, he thought.

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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

The town psychiatrist has decided to switch everybody in Pine Cove, California, from their usual antidepressants to placebos, so naturally -- well, to be accurate, artificially -- business is booming at the local blues bar. Trouble is, those lonely slide-guitar notes have also attracted a colossal sea beast named Steve with a, shall we say, thing for explosive oil tanker trucks.

Suddenly morose Pine Cove turns libidinous, is hit by a mysterious crime wave, and a beleaguered constable has to fight off his own gonzo appetites to find out what's wrong and what, if anything, to do about it.

Topics for Discussion

  1. In Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, more than a third of the people in town are taking antidepressants, and many of those who aren't have their own medicine for melancholy. Does anything ring true about this? Do you think Dr. Val Riordan's decision to take her patients off of antidepressants was correct? Are we too eager to engineer our moods by the use of drugs?

  2. Both Mavis Sand, the bartender, and Catfish Jefferson the blues singer, talk about the value of sadness. Is there a real value to sadness in human experience? Are the blues an expression, a celebration, or a cure for sadness?

  3. Molly Michon is a has-been, Theo Crowe is a never was-which is harder to be? What does the author seem to be saying about expectations by his portrayal of these two characters?

  4. Steve, the sea monster, seems to appeal to that part of the human mind that is left over from the reptiles. Do you believe that we have evolved past being ruled by our instincts, or is our culture just a means to obtain ourbasic desires? What do you think the religious feelings in Steve's followers in the cave say about our animal nature?

  5. Estelle has used her art to escape from the sadness of the death of her husband and her frustration as a teacher. What is it about the old blues singer that attracts her? Does romance have an age limit?

About the author

Christopher Moore is the author of Fluke, Lamb, Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 108 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(55)

4 Star

(34)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 109 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2000

    Lusting for Moore

    If you've never read Chris Moore, prepare to get hooked! That is, if you're not easily offended by mockery of the religious right,not put off by psychiatric humor, don't mind sympathizing with aging B-movie actresses, and feel OK reading about sex between the latter and a huge green sea reptile named Steve. A reluctant N. California tourist town goes cold turkey on their antidepressants and is soon after visited by the above mentioned Steve, who's attracted to low seratonin levels and, apparently, gas trucks. I could picture this as a movie-that is if the Coen brothers took acid and decided to redo 50's Japanese horror films, this time in 2000 California. Loved the book! Loved the humor, the details, the characters.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    This is a definite original

    In Pine Cove, California, almost everyone celebrates the end of summer as those monsters called tourists finally go home. However, a stunned clinical psychiatrist Dr. Valerie Riordan worries about over-prescribing mind medicine after a patient kills herself especially with statistics claiming suicide for the hard core fifteen percent of depression sufferers. Valerie switches her patients from anti-depressants like Zoloft to placebos. <P> While the townsfolk turn dispirited yet erotic, the Head of the Slug Saloon hires Mississippi Delta blues singer Catfish. His music attracts Steve a sea beast, a long time fan of the blues singer. Steve recently has been bathing in water supplemented by a nuclear leak. As the town turns psychotic, law enforcement officials augment the chaos. <P> THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE is a satirical bite at the American way of life. The story line is irreverent nuking everything and everyone involved in the chemical reinventing of Americans quite droll. Surprisingly, Christopher Moore's tale, sea beast and all, feels almost genuine as he avoids his previous tendency of going totally over the line of poor taste and remaining there. Anyone who relishes irony at its most humorous best, needs this novel to wash down 'mother's little helper'. <P>Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2010

    I guess if you're into ridiculous, it's ok.

    Ok, heard this guy was funny, funny and more funny.
    I can't even get into this.
    Just ridiculous. If you're going to read this, just get a comic book instead.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sick Sick Man

    But wonderfully entertaining - great ending!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2005

    My all time favorite Christopher Moore book

    I don't know if it's because this book was my FIRST Christopher Moore book, but it is definately my FAVORITE Christopher Moore book. Creative, hysterical and touching all at the same time!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    HAHAHAHA

    I LOVE MOORE!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2001

    I Keep Buying and Buying Them For My Friends

    I proud to say that I have converted many people to be Christopher Moories. Not only is this book light and exdtremely funny, it is just the lift we all need in this crazy world of ours. Chris Moore is quite the cutie too!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 11, 2013

    Crazy, imaginative, hilarious read.

    The second of Moore's books I've read and I've told everyone I know to read it now. I love his wacky sense of humor.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    I love lizards

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Hunting grounds

    Under the cave-like roots of the tree chricits, mealworms, waxworms, and superworms live, breed, and nest under them.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2012

    Lighningsta

    Its hard to pah for everything and to be responsible for everything.. its horrible

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    Rocky

    Ya im so sorry i fel asleep

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    My first Moore novel.

    This is my first time reading anything from Moore and I loved it. I don't normally read much comedy, but I literally laughed out loud quite a few times. The plot and characters are crazy (seriously), but it works so well. I look forward to purhasing another book by Moore.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Knowing Moore..i was let down

    Not anywhere near as good as lamb or A dirty Job but it was worth what i paid for..not reading it again though

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A fun read

    I picked up this book for a change of pace. It did not disappoint. It was funny, demented and a quick read. The characters were interesting and the story line bizarre, but kept you interested up until the end. I plan to read more from this author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Odd & Fun

    Once again, Moore brings a silly balance of odd situations and humor that keeps you reading and laughing. Great soft read.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Worth Reading

    Loved it! Funny!!! A twisted, good story.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A true ANTI-depressant! Funny stuff!!

    Christopher Moore is the funniest writer alive. Plain and simple. The is the fourth novel of his that I've read and have loved them all. Here, the charcaters are insanely hilarious yet somehow believeable. Remarkably crazy happenings that never make you scratch your head but mighht make you wet yourself. So, so funny! Great!

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    So funny! Great author!

    I love his books and this story is hilarious!

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  • Posted May 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Another Great Read

    Christopher Moore has done a wonderful job with keeping my hands on the book. Thank you C.M. I enjoy every min. of your writing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 109 Customer Reviews

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