15 March 2009

Books: Fool by Christopher Moore

What do you get when you cross Shakespeare’s most tragic tragedy and Christopher Moore?

You get King Lear as a comedy.

And using Lear’s fool (called Pocket), Moore re-tells the story of King Lear, who is old, and wants to retire. He decides to divide his realm among his three daughters, and offers the largest share to the one who loves him best. Goneril and Regan both proclaim in fulsome terms that they love him more than anything in the world, which pleases him. Cordelia speaks temperately and honestly, which annoys him. In his anger he disinherits her, and divides the kingdom between the other two. Kent objects to this unfair treatment, but Lear is further enraged by such contradiction, and banishes him from the country.

From there the tale begins a jam-packed ride of bawdy humor, extremely creative curse words and whole crap-load of intrigue that out shines the original tale.

As a huge fan of Moore’s, I was surprised to see him take on such a task. Not known for historical novels (with the exception of Lamb, which fictionalized the unknown years of Jesus), taking on Shakespeare -arguably one of the great playwrights in English language history - must’ve been daunting. Having never read or seen King Lear will not distract anyone from the story -after all, what movie or TV series has not stole ideas from Shakespeare’s work?

Still, at the end of the day, most of Moore’s stuff remains, as in previous books. There’s the always problematic relationship between men and women (and how men usually screw them up), his pointed humor, sharp as a serpent’s tooth here, and tons of sexual jokes.

But as I finished it, I’m hoping he returns to San Francisco in his next book. I’m wondering what The Emperor and Jody (along with Tommy) are up to.

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