Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Fool by Christopher Moore
Ah, Christopher Moore. I can always count on you for both erudite wit and bawdy humor. Turning one of Shakespeare's tragedies into a comedy chock-full of shagging, groan-worthy puns, potty humor, and, of course, mocking the French, takes a special kind of writer. Fool is Moore's retelling of King Lear from the point-of-view of Pocket, the King's fool. And now, it's a comedy. A very bawdy one (not unlike the Bard's own humor, really - all Moore missed here was a spot of gender confusion). I'm familiar with Moore's work, so I was expecting smart and funny, but I wasn't expecting such a sweet, tender story in parts. His endearing Pocket is lewd, randy, and respects no one, but as he is caught up in the political machinations of the plot, his gentle, sympathetic side is drawn out further. He's a surprisingly likable hero. Regan and Goneril are delightfully wicked villains, Lear is infuriating as in the original, and Pocket's dimwitted and perpetually aroused apprentice, Drool, is oddly sweet. For those (like me) who have not read King Lear in some time, Pocket explains the main plot points clearly and with great humor.
As with all Moore books, this one goes well over the top with some of the bodily fluid-dependent humor. I always find myself wishing he hadn't gone quite so far, or that he would leave that joke well enough alone after the fourth time, but that's not hard to overlook. I found this to be a really enjoyable read, and despite knowing the plot in advance, I was swept up in the action, and completely enamored with Pocket.
If you take your Shakespeare very seriously or find raunchy humor offensive, steer clear. Otherwise, I thought this a cracking good read with surprising depth.
Source disclosure: I purchased this book.