Practical Demonkeeping

Practical Demonkeeping

by Christopher Moore


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In Christopher Moore's ingenious debut novel, we meet one of the most memorably mismatched pairs in the annals of literature. The good-looking one is one-hundred-year-old ex-seminarian and "roads" scholar Travis O'Hearn. The green one is Catch, a demon with a nasty habit of eating most of the people he meets. Behind the fake Tudor facade of Pine Cove, California, Catch sees a four-star buffet. Travis, on the other hand, thinks he sees a way of ridding himself of his toothy traveling companion. The winos, neo-pagans, and deadbeat Lotharios of Pine Cove, meanwhile, have other ideas. And none of them is quite prepared when all hell breaks loose.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060735425
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/25/2004
Series: Pine Cove Series , #1
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 150,617
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

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.


Hawaii and San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 5, 1958

Place of Birth:

Toledo, Ohio

Read an Excerpt

Practical Demonkeeping

Chapter One

The Breeze

The Breeze blew into San Junipero in the shotgun seat of Billy Winston's Pinto wagon. The Pinto lurched dangerously from shoulder to centerline, the result of Billy trying to roll a joint one-handed while balancing a Coors tallboy and bopping to the Bob Marley song that crackled through the stereo.

"We be jammin' now, mon!" Billy said, toasting The Breeze with a slosh of the Coors.

The Breeze shook his head balefully. "Keep the can down, watch the road, let me roll the doobie," he said.

"Sorry, Breeze," Billy said. "I'm just stoked that we're on the road. "

Billy's admiration for The Breeze was boundless. The Breeze was truly cool, a party renaissance man. He spent his days at the beach and his nights in a cloud of sinsemilla. The Breeze could smoke all night, polish off a bottle of tequila, maintain well enough to drive the forty miles back to Pine Cove without arousing the suspicion of a single cop, and be on the beach by nine the next morning acting as if the term hangover were too abstract to be considered. On Billy Winston's private fist of personal heroes The Breeze ranked second only to David Bowie.

The Breeze twisted the joint, fit it, and handed it to Billy for the first hit.

"What are we celebrating?" Billy croaked, trying to hold in the smoke.

The Breeze held up a finger to mark the question, while he dug the Dionysian Book of Days: An Occasion for Every Party from the pocket of his Hawaiian shirt. He flipped through the pages until he found the correct date. "Nambian Independence Day, " he announced.

"Bitchin'," Billy said. "Party down forNambian Independence."

"It says," The Breeze continued, "that the Nambians celebrate their independence by roasting and eating a whole giraffe and drinking a mixture of fermented guava juice and the extract of certain tree frogs that are thought to have magical powers. At the height of the celebration, all the boys who have come of age are circumcised with a sharp stone."

"Maybe we can circumcise a few Techies tonight if it gets boring," Billy said.

Techies was the term The Breeze used to refer to the male students of San Junipero Technical College. For the most part, they were ultraconservative, crew-cut youths who were perfectly satisfied with their role as bulk stock to be turned into tools for industrial America by the rigid curricular lathe of San Junipero Tech.

To The Breeze, the Techies' way of thinking was so foreign that he couldn't even muster a healthy loathing for them. They were simply nonentities. On the other hand, the coeds of S.J. Tech occupied a special place in The Breeze's heart. In fact, finding a few moments of blissful escape between the legs of a nubile coed was the only reason he was subjecting himself to a forty-mile sojourn in the company of Billy Winston.

Billy Winston was tall, painfully thin, ugly, smelled bad, and had a particular talent for saying the wrong thing in almost any situation. On top of it all, The Breeze suspected that Billy was gay.

The idea had been reinforced one night when he dropped in on Billy at his job as night desk clerk at the Rooms-R-Us motel and found him leafing through a Playgirl magazine. In Breeze's business one got used to running across the skeletons in people's closets. If Billy's skeleton wore women's underwear, it didn't really matter. Homosexuality on Billy Winston was like acne on a leper.

The up side of Billy Winston was that he had a car that ran and would take The Breeze anywhere he wanted to go. The Breeze's van was currently being held by some Big Sur growers as collateral against the forty pounds of sinsemilla buds he had stashed in a suitcase at his trailer.

"The way I see it," said Billy, "we hit the Mad Bull first. Do a pitcher of margaritas at Jose's, dance a little at the Nuked Whale, and if we don't find any nookie, we head back home for a nightcap at the Slug. "

"Let's hit the Whale first and see what's shakin'," The Breeze said.

The Nuked Whale was San Junipero's premier college dance club. If The Breeze was going to find a coed to cuddle, it would be at the Whale. He had no intention of making the drive with Billy back to Pine Cove for a nightcap at the Head of the Slug. Closing up the Slug was tantamount to having a losing night, and The Breeze was through with being a loser. Tomorrow when he sold the forty pounds of grass he would pocket twenty grand. After twenty years blowing up and down the coast, living on nickle-dime deals to make rent, The Breeze was, at last, stepping into the winners' circle, and there was no room for a loser like Billy Winston.

Billy parked the Pinto in a yellow zone a block away from the Nuked Whale. From the sidewalk they could hear the throbbing rhythms of the latest techno-pop dance music.

The unlikely pair covered the block in a few seconds, Billy striding ahead while The Breeze brought up the rear with a laid-back shuffle. As Billy slipped under the neon whale tail and into the club, the doorman-a fresh-faced slab of muscle and crew cut-caught him by the arm.

"Let's see some I.D."

Billy flashed an expired driver's license as Breeze caught up to him and began digging into the pocket of his Day-Glo green surf shorts for his wallet.

The doorman raised a hand in dismissal. "That's okay, buddy, with that hairline you don't need any."

The Breeze ran his hand over his forehead self-consciously. Last month he had turned forty, a dubious achievement for a man who had once vowed never to trust anyone over thirty.

Billy reached around him and slapped two dollar bills into the doorman's hand. "Here," he said, "buy yourself a night with an Inflate-A-Date. "

"What!" The doorman vaulted off his stool and puffed himself up for combat, but Billy had already scampered away into the crowded club. The Breeze stepped in front of the doorman and raised his hands in surrender.

"Cut him some slack, man. He's got problems."

"He's going to have some problems," the doorman bristled.

"No, really, " The Breeze continued, wishing that Billy had spared him the loyal gesture and therefore the responsibility of pacifying this collegiate cave man. "He's on medication. Psychological problems. "

The doorman was unsure. "If this guy is dangerous, get him out of here."

"Not dangerous, just a little squirrelly--he's bipolar Oedipal, The Breeze said with uncharacteristic pomposity.

"Oh, " the doorman said, as if it had all become clear. "Well, keep him in line or you're both out."

"No problem." The Breeze turned and joined Billy at the bar amid a crunch of beer-drinking students. Billy handed him a Heineken.

Billy said, "What did you say to that asshole to calm him down?"

"I told him you wanted to fuck your mom and kill your dad."

"Cool. Thanks, Breeze. "

"No charge." The Breeze tipped his beer in salute.

Things were not going well for him. Somehow he had been snared into this male-bonding bullshit with Billy Winston, when all he wanted to do was ditch him and get laid.

Practical Demonkeeping. Copyright © by Christopher Moore. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Carl Hiaasen

Christopher Moore is a very sick man, in the very best sense of the word.

Robert Bloch

Practically of the few and special novels that conveys the sense that the author had as much fun writing it as his audience will have reading it. I can hardly wait for the next one -- the Moore, the merrier.

Reading Group Guide


Discover Chris Moore's ingenious debut novel, in which we meet one of the most memorably mismatched pairs in the annals of literature. The good-looking one is one-hundred-year-old seminarian and "roads" scholar Travis O'Hearn. The green one is Catch, a demon with a nasty habit of eating most of the people he meets. Behind the faux Tudor façade of Pine Cove, California, Catch sees a four-star buffet. Travis, on the other hand, thinks he sees a way of ridding himself of his toothy traveling companion.

The winos, Neo-pagans, and deadbeat Lotharios of Pine Cove, meanwhile, have other ideas. And none of them is quite prepared when all hell breaks loose ...

Topics for Discussion

  1. Travis O'Hearn is given immortality at a very high price. Would you make the trade-off? Would you be able to resist the power that Catch affords to his master? What would the best thing be about immortality? The worst?

  2. Each person in the book sees Catch as what he or she believes him to be (e.g., Howard sees him as one of the Old Ones, Rachel sees him as an earth spirit). Are people's preconceived notions of how the world works an asset or a liability in the face of adversity?

  3. Practical Demonkeeping refers to Pope Leo 11th as having been involved in sorcery. There were eleven Popes in history who were tried for sorcery. Does this reflect the superstitions of the time, or were these witch trials used to shift power in the Church? Do you believe that religious leaders can abuse their power?

  4. Muslim legend tells of a race of beings that was created to walk the Earth before man (the Djinn), yet they believe thatthe Old and New Testaments are valid holy books as well. Is there a chance that there are parts of the creation story that were left out of the Bible?

  5. Augustus Brine has resolved to live out the rest of his life pursuing simple pleasures, without strife or anxiety, yet his philosophy is dashed to pieces when he is called to fight the demon; is the "Epicurean" way of life, "simple pleasures tempered by justice and prudence" possible? What would it take to live the Epicurean lifestyle in our society?

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.

Customer Reviews

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Practical Demonkeeping 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 197 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like Christopher Moore, which I do, you will enjoy this book. If you don't know Christopher Moore and you like quirky, off beat and dark humor you should really read this book.
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
I have loved every piece of Christopher Moore's work I have read, until this. Here, in Practical Demonkeeping, you can really see how much Moore has evolved into the comedic story telling master that he is now. In this novel he needed more room to let these characters take more shape. The comedy was there but it was much more subtle as opposed to his next novel taking place in Pine Cove (Lust Lizard Of Melancholy Cove). Overall it was a good book but the author has spoiled me with his later and funnier works. This is a good place to start but not where I started!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore, opens with one hundred-year-old ex-seminarian, Travis O' Hearn, and an evil, flesh-eating demon named Catch, driving into the small town of Pine Cove. The most mismatched and oddest couple of all time met in 1916 during World War I, when Travis was about to enter seminary to become a priest. During his training to become a priest, the Vatican sent a set of priceless silver candlesticks in for repairs. Travis, who was assigned to polish the candlesticks, discovered they were hollow. Shocked by his discovery, he unscrewed one of the candlesticks and found a piece of parchment inside with an invocation on it. After Travis finished reading the invocation, the events that would follow changed his life forever. Suddenly, the demon Catch arose from the fiery pits of Hell, making Travis the master of an evil demon. This creation would link Travis and Catch in the worst way possible. Travis' life would never be his own. His survival depended on Catch. Therefore, Travis was forced to leave the seminary. His conscience would not permit him to pursue a path of righteousness when he was linked to such an evil beast. Catch revealed a terrible secret to Travis; if he did not feed, they both would die. After several years with Catch, Travis could no longer allow Catch to kill just any person to meet his dietary needs. So, in order to protect the innocent, Travis vowed to find the scum of the Earth for Catch to feed on once or twice a week. Unfortunately, Catch desired human flesh twenty-four seven and hated his master for restricting his needs. Catch's turmoil led him to make sure Travis' life would be a terrifying entanglement of pain and misery. Travis on the other hand, was tired of trying to control Catch, so he decided to come to Pine Cove to find the one person who could rid him of Catch once and for all. The book Practical Demonkeeping is a highly enjoyable and brilliantly written piece of comedy fiction. The book is full of humor, mystery, and suspense. The book mostly takes place in modern day California, but parts of it flashback to the early 1900's during World War I. The rural woodsy setting of Pine Cove adds to the suspense of the story when Catch goes on his "hunting" trips. The problem with Catch and Travis is resolved in a way that will leave readers satisfied. Practical Demonkeeping is a rare comedy gem that no one should miss out on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great, if weird, piece of fiction. The plot manages to be fresh and humorous without trying too hard. Moore's characters are well-developed and each lends something to the story. Christopher Moore's books do not disappoint.
mainrun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the end where a character laid out the plan, and the author actually let the readers in on it! WOW! It bothers me to no end when you keep hearing the inner most thoughts of characters, their ambitions, their goals, all that crap. BUT, when something important/good is about to happen, the author writes the worst words that can be in a book, "and then he/she/it told them." Some times I wish to hear the plan too, not just have it shown.
mossagate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm left hoping the author's writing gets better over time as he has several books and I may want to try all of them. The story is at first several seemingly unrelated stories until somewhere in the middle it starts making sense. I kept thinking the author is like Stephanie Meyer in that he doesn't write overly well but the STORY is compelling enough to read and enjoy. He is quite humorous and I found myself laughing aloud at certain phrases or antics. If you want a quick fun read you can't go too wrong with this one.
DarlenesBookNook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After reading a more serious book, such as Memoirs of a Geisha, I like to balance it out with something a little more wacky and zany...enter Christopher Moore!My massage therapist recommended Moore to me as an author that is very readable, whose books don't involve a lot of complex thoughts that could be forgotten if the book is read over long periods of time. I had lamented to her how much I missed reading adult literature for pleasure, and she suggested Moore books primarily because I could set them down and may not necessarily be able to pick it back up again for a while and I wouldn't have to go back 50 pages to re-read what had last happened to refresh my memory. She was right! Although it took me much longer than I would have like to read his books (pre-iPod), I was thrilled that I actually managed to squeeze in about ten minutes of reading a day!Practical Demonkeeping is about a man named Travis who unknowingly summons a demon named Catch. As a result, Travis becomes his Master with one of the benefits being perpetual youth. Travis wants nothing more than to get rid of Catch, and his life revolves around trying to find a way to send catch back to where he came from him.This was not my favourite Moore novel, but it was pretty good. Narrator, Oliver Wyman, is a pleasure to listen to.MY RATING: 3.5 stars!
Scoshie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You won't find a nicer bunch of looney's than in this story. A man eating demon behing held in check by a man who is getting tired of doing it. Christopher Moore's first book showed the promise of his coming novels. Well done.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A mix of horror and humor about a ravening demon, Catch, trying to free himself, his demonkeeper, Travis, trying to keep him from eating (people) too much, a djinn trying to send the demon back to hell and quirky inhabitants of Pine Cove, California who find themselves involved when the demon comes to town. The author reminds me in his charm and wacky humor of a Pratchett or Douglas Adams, American style. Moore doesn't engage in the the same kind of word play as those authors do, nor does this have dazzle with an amazing created world a la Discworld, but like Pratchett this features a kind of humor that makes you believe the author has an affection for his characters and humanity in general. (If I have any criticism, it's that, if anything, he's a bit too easy on some characters who get more than they deserve.) The book is zany, warm, with a gift for making you like his characters; this zipped past--all too quickly.
dodau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of Christopher Moore and this book didn't disapoint. Easy to read, I flew through it in a few hours, great characters and a funny plot. A very welcome return to Pine Cove this time in the company of Travis and his demon Catch.
TriciaDM on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very interesting.very odd as well.I was not sure what to think of the book, but it really sucked me in. I finished it in one day and I am still not quite sure how I felt about it.I am going to definitely read others by this author....
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was Moore¿s first novel (and also the first set in his monster-ravaged fictional town of Pine Cove, California), and his lack of practice does show. While the trademark Moore dark humor and offbeat characters are present, they are not as developed as the reader might wish for. Also, the plot is a bit too pat, the back story a trifle over-explained ¿ a deficit corrected in Moore¿s later writings. Still, it is an amusing romp and quick, fun read for fans of Moore and demons alike.
Moriquen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked it, though it wasn't entirely what I thought it was. I had some difficulty with the beginning, but I guess I had to get used to the way of the author.I enjoyed the story, it was very funny at times. (My favourite quote is: "To say that Effrom was not a particularly good cook was an understatement akin to saying that genocide is not a particularly effective public relations strategy.") And I did like the characters, overall a very enjoyable book. Though I did dislike some parts of the ending.
sleahey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost as irreverent as ever, Moore writes about an invisible demon who can be see only when he eats people, and the quest of his tender to rid himself of being eternally connected to the evil one. The characters along the way are quirky and flawed in their own way, and also outragious (in a good way)
norabelle414 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't as good as Lamb, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It's very simple and humorous. There are lots of interesting characters that have stories to tell, but aren't too complex. I also found it unexpectedly unpredictable.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is Moore's first novel. I wasn't quite sure what to think going in. After listening to the first few chapters, I figured out that Catch is a demon who eats people and is "controlled" (although not very well) by his master Travis. Catch and Travis come to a small California town called Pine Grove, which is populated by a range of interesting characters. But the King of the Djinns, Catch's enemy, shows up in Pine Grove, and the townspeople are pulled into a supernatural showdown. Are you with me so far? Moore does create a convoluted plot, but somehow he makes it all work. Each of the townspeople is a distinct and interesting character. Even though the story rotates between six or seven main characters, I felt like I got to know each one. Catch was a perfect demon, irreverent and mouthy. Despite a number of twists, the plot strands come together in a climax that had me sitting in the driveway until I'd listened to the last track of the audio book. This was the first of Moore's books that I've read, but I'll be on the lookout for others. Just a note for those of you who like audiobooks, I thought that the audio was very well done on this one. Catch's voice, especially, will echo in my head for a while!
KApplebaum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fun read, but not nearly as good as "Dirty Job" or "You Suck"
Ti99er on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you were to mix together a demon from hell, the king of the Djinn, a hippie drug dealer, a hopelessly romantic drunk and his wife/ex-wife (one in the same), the owner of a bait, tackle and fine wine shop, the leader of a coven cult, a 70+ year old man who doesn¿t appear to have aged more than 26 years, an old man and the wife, and a lot of bats, then you have one heck of a wild tale written by Christopher Moore. This one is not as laugh out loud funny as some of his other tales, but like his other stories is equally enjoyable. Moore creates memorable characters, as strange as they may be, this might explain why they are memorable. Definitely recommended reading for any Moore fan and equally enjoyable to the novice passerby of the growing Moore Cult.
rrravenita on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up because I'd heard it was great, funny, etc. Honestly, I thought it was okay, but certainly not the best book I've ever read. Starts off a bit slow, and picks up about halfway through. I'm interested in reading some of his later work, as I've heard him compared to authors I really love, but this barely did it for me. I don't know what actual city/town the ficticious Pine Cove is based on, but it was very reminiscent of the Central Coast of California (Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel, bits of Big Sur), and since I used to live in that area, it did make me a little homesick! He did do a good job with the setting, at least! Overall: Just okay.
knfmn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a cute book, but not the best things I've ever read by a long shot. I think this could have been a great book, but Moore kind of missed the boat on it. I've read several of his books and have had the same experience with all of them. He seems to be very hit or miss. I'm gonna have to call this one a miss.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Protagonist(s): Travis O'Hearn and Catch, the demonSetting: Pine Cove, CaliforniaFirst Line: "The Breeze blew into San Junipero in the shotgun seat of BillyWinston's Pinto wagon."In Practical Demonkeeping, we meet one of the most mis-matched pairs in fiction. The good-looking one is 100-year-old ex-seminarian, Travis O'Hearn. His green traveling companion is Catch, a demon with the nasty habit of eating most of the people he meets. They've been on the road for most of the twentieth century, and Travis hasn't found it easy to keep Catch on a strict diet. When they drive into Pine Cove, California, Catch sees a five-star buffet, but Travis thinks he might have found a way to end the partnership. Add into the mix an ill-tempered gene and some rather peculiar Pine Cove residents, and you're in for a bumpy ride. (I grew quite partial to Mavis, the barkeep.)This is the second Moore book I've read. Both show flashes of what I've heard Moore's capable of, but they're only flashes. Never fear, Booksfree has sent me Lamb and The Island of the Sequined Love Nun, so I'm expecting the entire fireworks show to commence sometime in the future!
DanaJean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Christopher Moore book so wasn't sure what to expect. Very humorous with a creative and twisting story arc, I enjoyed reading about Travis and his very unwelcome demon, Catch. We jump around following numerous characters, but it's a cohesive jumping around and Moore successfully pulls it off, keeping me engaged and interested the whole way through. It was a cute story and I have another Moore book in the wings. He's got me; now let's see if he can hang onto me.
madamejeanie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh, gosh, this book was fun! Christopher Moore writes hilarious stories, with characters so unique they could have sprung from the pages of a comic book. This is his debut novel, introducing the tiny tourist town of Pine Cove in northern California, just down the road from Big Sur. Pine Cove has some visitors who arrive very late one night. The tall good looking one is a 100 year old ex-seminarian and current demonkeeper named Travis O'Hearn, along with his living millstone, Catch, a demon with a decided taste for human flesh. Travis has spent the last 80 years trying to figure out how to banish this demon back to hell and get his life back. He accidentally called him up in a fit of pique back when he was studying to become a priest and now he can't get rid of him. Travis is the only human who can see Catch, until the demon goes into "eating mode." Catch isn't so crazy about Travis, either, and has a plan of his own. Winos, pagans, gossipy old men, unsatisfied waitresses, and observant shop owners all have to band together when all Hell literally breaks loose in Pine Cove.This book goes quick, too quick, really. I laughed all the way through it, roared from time to time, chuckled the rest of the time. Classic Moore. If you haven't read this guy, put him on your New Year's resolution list this year.
FicusFan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another fun book by Moore. It is set in Pine Cover and revolves around a man who is chained to a demon. He is trying to get the demon to go back to hell, and the demon wants to eat him. The demon also wants to eat other humans and the demon-keeper also spends his time trying to keep it from happening.The wacky residents of Pine Cove get involved, and the demon finds its not so easy to eat them.
lildrafire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I began this book I thought maybe I had picked up a child's book by mistake--Moore's writing was juvenile and not too sophisticated, but soon I forgot about the writing style and was absorbed into the story. This novel melds fantasy, mythology, and humor into one big ball of fun once you finally get into the meat of the story. Good, fun, fast read.