Yes, it’s time again for Book of the Month (or whatever time period I settle on). This time, we’ll be delving into the wonderful world of Christopher Moore and my absolute favorite book by him, Fool. No, that’s the book title, I wasn’t insulting you.
I tend to be an introvert. I’m not going to be the person starting up a conversation at the bus stop or in line at the grocery store. I’m the person you want to sit next to on the plane because I won’t be pestering you the entire flight with inane blather. Other than my new favorite pair of bright pink shoes, I don’t like to draw attention to myself. So when I earned the distrustful looks of strangers from letting out full-blown laughter I felt a bit foolish. Too bad they weren’t in on the joke.
Or the book as the case may be.
I’ll admit, sometimes I get too busy to sit down and read so I resort to audiobooks. On occasion these things are horrible, well, most occasions. The person reading is mind-numbingly dull to listen to (especially when read by the author) or the story just doesn’t “work” without being read by my own eyes.
But on this occasion, I had stumbled on a gem, a hilarious gem at that: Christopher Moore’s Fool.
The first book I read of Moore was a disaster (Fluke). The jokes were strained and characters pathetically stereotypical. But, I tend to be willing to give authors one more chance. And only one. Life is too short for bad books, after all.
Along came Moore’s interesting genre of horror/fantasy and humor. This included the much-appreciated series of novels about vampires who didn’t brood and sulk in a pit of teenage angst and none of them shimmered. These were vampires with shit to do and crazy situations to get themselves into (turkey bowling, anyone?). They made their way through three books without become the least bit annoying unlike the Cullen brood.
Then there was Moore’s book that is probably going to keep him from getting an audience with the Pope anytime soon. Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff helps us understand exactly (sort of) what happened during Jesus’s childhood. Hey, if the Bible can get away with things like the virgin birth, why not let Jesus have a smart ass friend and let Moore tell us how judo (Jew-do) was invented.
So when I saw Fool on audiobook at the local library I couldn’t wait to cram it onto my iPod and enjoy another of Moore’s tales. In Fool, Moore retells the story of King Lear from the point of view of the king’s jester, Pocket. Although there are many themes in keeping with the tragic nature of King Lear (and really, I have to say Fool, despite its potty humor, is one of Moore’s most “mature” works), there is plenty of crap going on that left me laughing and getting “crazy lady” stares from people within earshot.
Abandoned as a baby, Pocket was adopted into a nunnery where the Abbess is definitely not a sister. Through twists of fate Pocket ends up in Lear’s court where he falls in love with Cordelia. Her sisters think of Pocket as their own personal boy toy but fail to decline to the king they’ve had sex with him mainly because they are too dimwitted to realize they should lie.
Luckily, Pocket is too needed by the king and too clever with his tongue to get into much trouble. In an attempt to keep Cordelia for himself, Pocket ends up starting a civil war and is the agent for much of the events we know from King Lear (but way funnier with way more cursing and sex). Pocket’s encounters with the three soothsaying witches are wonderful plays of language and innuendo.
The conclusion of Fool is super satisfying except for the damn fact that I hated to have the story end. Shakespeare devotees may cringe, but Fool is well told and a bawdy bit of fun. Although it gives you a better insight to the book, you don’t have to be familiar with King Lear to enjoy Fool. Brits and well-versed non-Brits will love Moore’s use of British slang and twists on British place names. If you can, get your hands on the audio version, which is narrated by a very talented Euan Morton.
Warning: I do advise reading or listening to Fool in private if you don’t want to earn any strange glances.