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Fool by Christopher Moore (audio)

Christopher Moore‘s Fool is loosely based upon William Shakespeare’s King Lear.  If you haven’t read King Lear, what are you waiting for?  Talk about a tragedy of one’s own making.  The source material centers on a king who splits up his kingdom between his daughters based upon their professions of love for him, but of course, one daughter deigns to tell the truth rather than gush and engage in hyperbole.

“‘I’ve never even seen them,’ Taster said.

‘Oh, quite right.  What about you, Drool? Drool? Stop that!’

Drool pulled the damp kitten out of his mouth.  ‘But it were licking me first.  You said it was only proper manners–‘” (page 40)

In Moore’s version, King Lear’s fool of many years — an appropriately named Black Fool — Pocket plays a significant role in the downfall of a king and a kingdom.  Pocket has a hidden past of his own that involves an abbey, an ankress, witches, and more.  He’s sarcastic, runs rampant with his verbal barbs at the royal family, but he’s got a darker streak that trends toward manipulation behind the jokes.  Pocket is great at planting the seeds in the players’ minds from the Bastard Edmund to Lear’s daughters Regan and Goneril.  In a way, Pocket is a comic relief fool, but he does have a sidekick who is — Drool.

“‘I shagged a ghost,’ said Drool to the young squires.  They pretended they couldn’t hear him.

Kent shuffled forward, held back some by the alabaster grandeur of my nakedness.  ‘Edmund was found with a dagger through his ear, pinned to a high-backed chair.’

‘Bloody careless eater he is, then.'”  (page 168)

Some of the best parts of the book are the jibes at the main royals, but also the references to other works by Shakespeare.  Moore definitely knows his literature, and is a master at rearranging syntax to create new images and environments within the Shakespearean middle ages  He stretches the edges of that world and tosses it out into the moat.  Readers who need a laugh out loud book to chase away the blues, are looking for clever prose and outlandish characters, and seeking a literary jaunt should pick up Fool.

“‘So, it sounds as if you’re thinking of conquering more than just the petting zoo?’

‘Europe,’ said the princess, as if stating the unadorned truth.

‘Europe?’ said I.

‘To start,’ said Cordelia.

‘Well, then you had better get moving, hadn’t you?’

‘Yes, I suppose,’ said Cordelia, with a great silly grin.  ‘Dear Pocket, would you help me pick an outfit?'” (page 255)

However, the ending of the novel could leave readers feeling flat or unsatisfied.  Overall, Fool by Christopher Moore is a “bawdy tale.” Moore has a number of fun books, and readers who enjoy humor, particularly dark or raunchy humor with a bit of whimsy, will love his books.  Moore is always a riot.

My husband enjoyed the audio version on our daily commute, laughing and giggling into work, but was seriously disappointed with the ending.  In his words, “The sexual jokes were funny and the ending sucked.”

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FTC Disclosure:  I listened to the Fool by Christopher Moore on audio CD, which I borrowed from the library, and read portions of the book from another library copy.