Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 28, 2009

Book review: "Fool" by Christopher Moore

Imagine Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear” from the viewpoint of Lear’s jester and you have the groundwork for comic writer Christopher Moore’s latest novel, “Fool.” Pocket, Lear’s fool, has grown accustomed to court intrigue but not a court that has King Lear in his dotage meting out his lands and power to his two deceitful eldest daughters while banishing his youngest, more honest daughter. Pocket schemes to drive a wedge between the two eldest sisters with hopes of bringing home the youngest. Sounds like Shakespeare right enough, but think of Pocket as a lusty and profane Bugs Bunny archetype, toss in a few other Shakespearean plot constructs, add some more profanity, and a bit more silliness and you get “Fool.” For regulars of Christopher Moore’s novels, this brand of humor may be what is to be expected, but if you’re a newcomer, it is something else. It isn’t so much the various R-rated devices, but it is rather that the story dips a little too far into silliness, coming close to being inane, without the brilliant inanity of Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail.” “Fool” is amusing, a page-turner, but elicits no real laughter. Those familiar with Shakespeare, especially “Lear,” will enjoy Moore’s fun with Pocket. If you have not read “King Lear,” you are likely more familiar with the storyline than you realize: Shakespeare is one of the most honored and most ripped-off writers in history. Your “Lear” can be rusty or completely unread to appreciate this new perspective on the Shakespearean tragedy. That is if you enjoy a whole lot of silly behind the scenes of your tragedies.

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