123 of 129 people found the following review helpful
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. And so it begins, eventually leading to murder, war, madness, and so forth. This ringing any bells?
You may be asking, "Where's the fool?" That's just it. Pocket is everywhere. He's telling the story. He is the witness to it all. He knows the entire back story, has all the family secrets, knows how those three girls lost their virginity, etc. And you know that's going to come up, because this is a Christopher Moore novel, after all. Shakespeare may be hallowed ground to some, but Chris Moore isn't above throwing in a little bathroom humor, some gratuitous sex, and a joke or two that'll make you groan. Actually, I don't think Will Shakespeare was above any of those devices himself. Some of the humor is terribly erudite and sophisticated and some is well, idiotic. (Literally, as it happens.) Say what you will, this novel is laugh-out-loud funny!
I'll be honest, there were times when the mixture of comedy and tragedy clashed a little uncomfortably for me. It's a freakin' depressing story, y'all! But Moore's twisted take on Shakespeare and his obvious love and respect for the Bard are all but brilliant. Bravo, Chris! Do keep stretching those literary and creative muscles. This is your best work in years.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2009
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.
I highly recommend Fool to anyone who is need of a good laugh and doesn't mind an abundance of hilariously written bawdy humor that has become Moore's forte. I found myself the literally laughing out loud countless times throughout this novel. If you find yourself amused by this book, then I highly recommend Lamb, another equally sacrilegious and utterly irrelevant parody from the comical mind of Christopher Moore.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2009
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!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine 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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2009
This is my first experience with Christopher Moore. It won't be my last. I'm not exaggerating when I say this is the funniest book I have ever read. There are parts--mostly the incredibly creative insults--that are side-splittingly hilarious. The Bard himself would be proud of most of these insults. Twisted into the story of Lear are bits of his other plays--the witches from MacBeth, the ghost (there's always a bloody ghost), "Green Eggs and Hamlet," etc., etc.
What an enjoyable read, but by no means for the faint of heart. Knowing a little about the characters in Lear is helpful, but not completely necessary for the pure enjoyment of the book. You'd probably miss a few of the inside jokes, though.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2009
I wish I could give half stars because my true rating for this book is 4.5 stars out of 5, not 4 out of 5.
Christopher Moore has written, in his usual style, a tale filled with black humor, satire, sarcasm, wit, bawdiness, and lewdness. The pages overflow with sexual innuendo and inventive foul language. There is a certain hope that infuses the novel, and Moore crafts characters who are capable of deep empathy (though he also does a great job drawing the more flawed characters of Lear, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund). If taken at face value, Fool is another excellent novel in the Moore oeuvre.
However, if readers look past face value, they will discover a fine metafictive work. Moore has played with the use of myth and folklore in his work before, even taking on the Bible in Lamb. But taking Shakespeare's Lear, possibly the Bard's greatest tragedy, and re-envisioning it, reworking it for the modern reader in way that further illuminates the original work's themes - that really takes craft and skill. He turns a bitter, tragic story into a deep, dark, espresso-black comedy. It is through his humor and mockery that Moore examines the same themes as Shakespeare did - betrayal, justice, fate, social hierarchy, power, and forgiveness - and examines them with a thoroughly modern eye. Sure, Moore does it in his own bawdy style, but the humor and humanity in his writing is what makes it so appealing (and who can begrudge him a bit of lewdness - read some Chaucer if you think Moore is bad).
While Fool is similar in style to other novels he has written, Moore nonetheless takes a bold step with this new novel. Of all of his novels (in my opinion), this is the most literary of the bunch. He took a risk, revising Shakespeare. The book's themes and style may be a bit over the heads of someone who has only read Moore for the sex jokes, but some in academia and the literati may look down their noses at the novel because of its raucous tone and bawdy language. In other words, it may be too smart for some and too much like fun for others. For this reader, though, Moore hit a perfect balance.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2009
In the "spirit" of the book:
Bawdy, audacious and wry
Moore's Shakespeare is really quite fly
With Lear's way cool fool
and a sidekick named Drool
You really should give it a try
Ribald laughs galore
and of course there's a wh*re
If the Bard aint your bag, then
Read for the shaggin'
'Cuz nobody does it like Moore*
*You know, in writing.
When Christopher Moore announced his next book would be Shakespearean, my first reaction was "Oh no!" Let's put it this way, I don't go out of my way to encounter Shakespeare.
However, I am a huge fan of Moore's and I knew in his very capable hands, I would probably be OK. When I read the word "bung" on the second page, I knew that it would be more than OK!
Unfortunately for me, I didn't know Lear's story at all so I did feel a bit at a disadvantage. The book totally works as a story in and of its own, but I would have enjoyed "getting" all the references. This book is extremely clever, and even without knowledge of Lear I surprised myself by recognizing many Shakespearean references.
All in all, a VERY enjoyable romp through middle-ageish England.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2009
What do I do now? It started with Lamb and then I had to read every book Chistopher Moore has written in order, starting with Practical Demonkeeping and finishing with Fool. I really enjoyed Fool because, like Lamb, it was different from most of his other novels. But what wasn't different was that it was just as terrific as all the other novels. Now I don't know what to do while waiting for his next novel to come out. If you are looking for a Christopher Moore novel to read, this is a great one, but you can't go wrong with any of them!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
.....and he may actually improve on Shakespeare with this one. I recommend a familiarity with King Lear prior to reading it, but the story would probably stand on its own without.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In high school, I wrote about the fools in all of Shakespeare's plays. I remember thinking that Shakespeare should have expanded the fools' roles, for they were better than the various leading characters for wit, wisdom, and all-around entertainment value.
Clearly, a lot of the so-called wise people were in fact fools. King Lear is a prime example. What kind of an idiot would give away all of his wealth and power to his two lying daughters based on their willingness to tell him what he wanted to hear?
Shakespeare clearly understood that fools were valuable in kingly courts for providing wise advice as "foolishness" while others had to go along with the king's idiocy. Christopher Moore understands that point even more profoundly and places Lear's fool, Pocket, at the center of the Lear tragedy . . . recast as a dark comedy.
Usually, this is all great fun . . . especially when Moore chooses to add aspects to the Lear story that expand it in new directions such as by borrowing the witches from Macbeth. But Moore has a predilection for making the book as prurient and disgusting as possible. I assume that he's a great fan of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Needless to say, some of the gutter's smell attaches to the book and will repulse you at times. I'm sure this will increase the book's appeal to those who like "broad" humor.
Overall, I was quite satisfied with the experience. This fool is no fool, even if he is overly attached to his apprentice fool, the "natural" Drool. You may find yourself drooling with laughter in places.