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Fool: A Novel Hardcover – February 10, 2009

397 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 311 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060590319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060590314
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (397 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Christopher Moore is the author of eleven previous novels: Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Lamb, Fluke, The Stupidest Angel, A Dirty Job, You Suck, and Fool. He lives in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Moore is at his best when he stretches himself. He can keep cranking out amusing books set in Pine Cove and San Francisco, and I will joyfully continue reading them. But it is the rarer and more challenging works (such as his prior novel LAMB) that I really look forward to with relish.

Fool is Moore's take on Shakespeare in general and King Lear in particular. Once again, Moore has set himself the challenge of finding the comedy in an epic tragedy. In Fool, now that I think of it, he uses a device similar to the one he used in LAMB--a charming and ridiculous narrator. This is Lear told from the point of view of the court jester, Pocket, a character as endearing as any that Moore has written. Through Pocket's eyes we learn more about the goings on in Castle Lear than we have been privy to in the past. And, we learn the fool's own fascinating life story. It is possible that devotees of the Shakespearean original did not realize that the Lear household actually revolved around the fool?

I don't know that there's much point in giving you a Cliff's Notes version of the plot. Lear was the elderly king of all Britain. As the play/novel opens, he has decided to divide his kingdom among his three adult daughters. The division will be determined by who loves him the most. (That's fair, right?) The two eldest, Goneril and Regan flatter him mightily. Only the youngest, Cordelia, speaks truthfully and modestly of her love for her father. But her sincerity is lost on Lear. He flies into a rage. He disinherits Cordelia and divides the kingdom between Goneril and Regan and their respective husbands. Lear's best friend Kent says, "Hey, this is crazy. What are you doing?" and gets banished for his trouble.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Spradlin Sr. on February 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I think one of the things I love most about Mr. Moore's work is his ability to make us laugh, cry and think, all in the same sentence. I have heard him say at appearances and read in many interviews, about how much he admires Steinbeck's Cannery Row and how Steinbeck could treat even the down-trodden and flawed among us with such grace, humanity and gentle humor. I think in FOOL he has fully emulated one of his writing idols with amazing results.

Don't get me wrong. Every character in a Chris Moore book becomes a friend. Someone you root for and would want to help if you could. They become those closest of friends, the ones we laugh with, but never at. But I think he has raised his game tremendously in FOOL. By taking the Fool from Shakespeare's Lear, the most powerless character and giving him not only a voice but real power, he has shown the full palatte of his many gifts as an artist. From the moment he walked on the page, I couldn't stop rooting for Pocket if I tried. And you won't be able to either. And I can't wait to read whatever it is he comes up with next.

Bravo Mr. Moore! Bravo!
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. Huskins on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Fool, Christopher Moore's most recent novel to hit the shelves, is a bawdy and perplexing tragic comedy based upon the Shakespearean play King Lear. If you are not a literary expert or Shakespeare enthusiast fear not, Moore will take even the most ignorant along for his crazed ride of "gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity."

If you are familiar with King Lear, do not expect Moore to use this play as a brace, yet merely as an outline. While working through the pages of Fool, you will find a cornucopia of plots, characters, and underlying ideas from close to a dozen of other Shakespeare works thrown into a blender with a generous does of Moore's own wit, and enough Elizabethan wordplay that will have you quoting his writing for weeks.

The story unfolds from the point of view of the King's fool, Pocket. He is a tauntingly contemptuous, straightforward bard, who is not afraid of offending every nobleman, shagging every wench, and encouraging every death threat that happens upon his path (not necessarily in that order of course). Pocket completely immerges himself in a twisted and ever unfolding plot after the elderly, senseless King Lear divides his kingdom between his two lying and deceitful daughters Goneril and the "shagnatious" Regan. Lear then banishes his formerly most favorite and loyal daughter, Cordelia, along with his trusted friend and advisor Kent for merely speaking the truth. With the help of his gigantically dim, yet always randy apprentice Drool; Pocket sets forth to set things right armed with nothing more than his throwing daggers, acute wit, and the occasional witch or wench.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michelf VINE VOICE on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm very fond of Shakespeare's plays and as a result people are always giving me books and movies that retell the stories in some way. Fool by Christopher Moore is the best adaptation of King Lear I've come across since Ran and the best adaptation told from a supporting character's point of view since Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. I'm not sure I would go so far as to say it's better then both of those... But it is certainly on par with them, combining the best aspects of each. Despite the fact that it is a book and not a movie or a play made into a movie, it has the style of "Ran" and the sense of humor of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern".

Language tends to be the biggest hurtle for people reading Shakespeare but Moore's characters manage to maintain a certain Elizabethan flair while speaking to each other in a way that's very modern and accessible (without even resorting to the use of "dude").

While Shakespeare was better then a number of his contemporaries at providing depth and motivation for his characters (particularly the villeins) the world and characters of "Fool" have been expanded and developed to keep even the most jaded of Shakespeare aficionados, or haters, turning the pages to find out what happens next in a story we all had to read in High School.

Seriously, just read it.
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