Friday, July 17, 2009
Book Review: Fool
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fool is Christopher Moore’s bawdy retelling of William Shakespeare’s King Lear (with nods to others of the bard’s plays smuggled in along the way). Pocket, Lear’s fool, serves as the cunning protagonist who seeks to mend—or perhaps just restructure— a fractured and fragile kingdom after a wizened but unwise Lear divides his lands between his two eldest and self-serving daughters, Goneril and Regan, while banishing Cordelia, his youngest, whose profession of filial affection does not prove eloquent enough for the king when solicited. Enter dukes, witches, bastards, unbuttoned bodices, and of course, a ghost, and you’re on your way through a classical tale of political espionage, love, hate, remorse, revenge, and a whole lotta lust.
Much of Fool’s merits may be attributed to Shakespeare himself, rather than to Moore. Setting aside the conspiracy theories that question just how original the bard’s writings really were, Shakespeare’s tales are considered classics for a reason—their complexities are built on plotlines that are deceptively simple and instantly appealing, much like the hook to a good pop song. Moore certainly reaps the benefits of this, putting forth a novel that moves swiftly while keeping the reader delightfully intrigued. Where Moore can take credit, however, is for his signature—and arguably juvenile—sense of humor. Fool’s prefatory warning that the book is not for the easily offended should not be taken lightly. (Sex in all its varieties—and fluids—permeates the book.) For those who do not throw down the book in disgust, however, some laugh-out-loud moments are guaranteed. Just don’t tell your mom why you’re giggling.