Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

Fabulous book!
 Little known fact #1:  Carrie and I are art thieves.  That may be a bit of an exaggeration, I mean it's not like we were in The Thomas Crown Affair or anything.  But we have managed to look at some lovely art without paying for the privilege.  Before our parents start gnashing their teeth and pulling out their hair (which, sorry Dad, our dad can ill afford to do) over the fact that their daughters became ne'er do well, liberal, freeloaders, let me just say that it was an accident.  We were at the St. Louis Art Museum to see the traveling exhibit featuring works by Van Gogh and Gaugin.  Carrie has long been a fan of the Impressionists, and I was planning on bringing my high school French classes to the exhibit at a later date.  And anyone who has ever tried to appreciate a thing of beauty surrounded by teenagers knows, their disdain and general ennui will suck the beauty out of anything and everything.  I once saw a hot air balloon collapse into its own basket under the gaze of a high school physics class.  I swear the air escaping made the sound "I used to feel pretty." as it escaped its cloth confines.  So it's best to see the thing of beauty first, or plan to never appreciate it.  We walked into the museum and found our way to the special exhibit gift shop - shopping being a prerequisite to art appreciation, of course - and then I walked through an unattended doorway.  Carrie also walked through and we wandered around a bit before moving to the next room.  About three rooms away from the gift shop (and if truth be told, I'm sure about three rooms away from the point of realization), we looked at each other and said something to the effect of "Uh, I think we're looking at the exhibit that we should have paid for.  Why didn't someone stop us?  Do we look guilty? Cause we've come this far, what's the point of going out and paying?  Really it's their own fault for not posting someone at that door."  And we continued on our way vowing to spend more money in the gift shop.  What I remember from the exhibit, besides the lack of security and that feeling guilty does not diminish a work of art, was the amount of paint Van Gogh used on his canvases.  It quite literally comes off the canvas in swirls and lines, leaving the viewer with the impression that this was a man who felt so much he couldn't use an average amount of paint to express his feelings.  It was amazingly beautiful.

Little known fact #2:  I've been in a reading slump lately.  I'm blaming all the non-fiction I've been ingesting.  But it happens sometimes....I just start to feel like nothing I'm reading is special/creative/original/fun.  I usually go back to an old standby (HHGTG or The Phantom Tollbooth in most cases) to pick me up again, but this time I happened upon a new-to-me author.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say.....I'm in love.  I even took a picture of some dialogue from Sacre Bleu and sent it to Carrie.  I bought this book on Saturday and I finished it Monday night.  Slump is officially over.  Thank you, Christopher Moore.

How these facts go together:  Sacre Bleu is the tale of the color blue.  Or the muse that has inspired artists for centuries.  Or both, as they are one and the same.  The book centers around the Impressionists that found homes, models, and inspiration in the bohemian atmosphere of Montmartre, but it encompasses all great works of art and their artists.  The cast of characters is large and the chronology a bit jumbled, but that just enhances the story rather than detract.  Lucien (son of a baker and wanna be patron of the arts) and Henri (Toulouse-Lautrec, bien sur) are on a quest to understand why their friend Vincent (Van Gogh, to be sure) would have committed suicide, especially in the odd manner in which he did.  Why would he shoot himself in the chest and then walk a mile to the home of a doctor?  During their quest for truth, Lucien encounters his old love, Henri renews his enthusiasm for cabarets, brothels, and alcohol, and we meet The Colorman and Bleu.  

What I loved most about this book was the quick-witted and fast-paced dialogue.  I hate books that slow things down by explaining plot points through laborious dialogue.  We don't need to have every.single.detail spelled out for us when the characters have a discussion.  We're smart; we'll catch on. I also loved that there were paintings thrown in throughout the book.  Mostly because I have absolutely no artistic talent and therefore admire those who can create something in such a manner.  But I also love that we get an imagined glimpse into the inspiration for these particular moments.  It's fiction, but the tales behind the paintings are plausible(ish) and it makes a great story.  Pictures are supposed to be worth a thousand words, right?  I'm not giving any more of the plot away because I'm imploring you to read it for yourself.  It's fast, funny, a bit raunchy, and a charming tale.  It's as if Dave Barry and the collective body of Monty Python had a love child; what could go wrong with that?  Read this book if you like to laugh, learn, appreciate art and absurdity.  Now, I'm off to buy more of Mr. Moore's books and to mail SLAM my exhibit fee before Dad is officially bald. 
Starry Night by Van Gogh
Starry Night - So much blue.
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  1. OK Sarah. This is your anonymous Aunt Barb. I am going to read this book. How can I pass up a book that's raunchy,funny, and contains art? Don't think I'll get it read as quickly as you did but I'm looking forward to something new.

    1. It's funny and fun and full and a bit off-kilter in a good way. You can borrow my copy if you like!

  2. You have to read his book, "Lamb" next. I read it on a cross-country flight and laughed out loud so often that the guy across the aisle from me finally asked me what I was reading. When I held up the book for him to see the cover, he grinned and said, "I just finished that book! It's a riot!" Very irreverent, but delightful! I'm headed to Amazon to find Sacre Bleu. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Nan! That was next on my list. Then I thought I'd start with the Piney Cove series. Or maybe the vampire series....I can't decide. Either way, I enjoyed Sacre Bleu so much that I knew I'd be reading more (or to be perfectly punny, reading Moore!). Let me know if you like it when you finish it.