Against the Grain

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My Foolish Review of “Fool” by Christopher Moore

Posted by Patrick on 24 Feb 2009

I picked up Chris’ new book the day it came out – I hesitated to read it right away because I knew I was going to attend the book signing stop in Denver, and I’d hoped to be able to hold out that long. However, I couldn’t actually resist for more than a few days, and I dove in anyway. What I found is that, like so many of Chris’ other stories, it starts strong and maintains momentum throughout.

Surely, you can’t take Shakespeare and make the bard’s plays better. Surely you can’t twist fate from some of the most widely-read scripts in the history of the world and make them better. Well, of course not. Chris doesn’t try to do that, either. He is recognized as one of the great satirists of our time, and with good reason. Fool doesn’t offend the purist, and doesn’t disappoint those seeking heavy doses of the elixir Chris provides.

I know that many have not yet read the story, so I shan’t spoil it for you, but it is a glorious mashup retelling of King Lear, with convenient borrows from other Shakespearean works, and from the perspective of Lear’s fool. In the play, the fool has no name – I found it great to have Chris name him Pocket (after his diminutive stature). We learn about his upbringing, about how he came to be the fool in Lear’s court, and about some serious misadventures in medieval Europe which spin the tale.

If you are familiar with King Lear proper, or even if you are not, you will love the tenacity that Chris brings to that world. I wouldn’t recommend reading “King Lear” before investing in Fool – there is certainly enough information in the story to carry it without foreknowledge of the plot.

But, the story is not for everyone. Even Chris says, as he is known to do, that it’s a bawdy tale packed with action and “action”. If you’re a reader easily offended by bad words and debauchery, you probably wouldn’t like the story at all – and let me recommend Pride and Prejudice as an alternative read.

Overall rating: 9.8/A+

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