From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Here's the Cliff Notes you wished you'd had for King Lear
—the mad royal, his devious daughters, rhyming ghosts and a castle full of hot intrigue—in a cheeky and ribald romp that both channels and chides the Bard and all Fate's bastards. It's 1288, and the king's fool, Pocket, and his dimwit apprentice, Drool, set out to clean up the mess Lear has made of his kingdom, his family and his fortune—only to discover the truth about their own heritage. There's more murder, mayhem, mistaken identities and scene changes than you can remember, but bestselling Moore (You Suck
) turns things on their head with an edgy 21st-century perspective that makes the story line as sharp, surly and slick as a game of Grand Theft Auto. Moore confesses he borrows from at least a dozen of the Bard's plays for this buffet of tragedy, comedy and medieval porn action. It's a manic, masterly mix—winning, wild and something today's groundlings will applaud. (Feb.)
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In Moore’s randy alternate Britain, in which Lear is a thirteenth-century monarch rather than the fourth-century BCE figure he most probably was (if he was real, not legendary), the fool doesn’t disappear in the third-act storm. Indeed, he sets the ball rolling that eventually crushes the king, his ingrate elder daughters, and most of the others that perish in Shakespeare’s most devastating tragedy. He and Cordelia survive, though, as well they might, since the fool loves Cordelia. How’s that for a new wrinkle? Others include a horny, dumbbell, giant apprentice fool, named Drool after his chronic propensity; all manner of hot-to-trot supernumeraries; and more or less wall-to-wall, farcical fornicating and fighting. While a jolly good time can be had, the horror and high pathos of the basic plot frequently douse the comic and sexual fires like so much ice water in the face, or lower. King Lear is one tough play to parody, at least at this length, and the book feels like something Moore had to get out of his system. His legion of fans will forgivingly enjoy it, while newcomers should be quickly steered toward The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (1999) or The Stupidest Angel (2004) for a giddy taste of Moore at his ludicrous best. --Ray Olson