I’m so glad that Moore manages to get a novel out about every year. I’m not sure if I could wait much longer than that to read a new Moore story. The man is hilarious, and never disappoints. Fool is, sort of, new territory for Moore. It’s essentially a retelling of King Lear from the Fool’s perspective and with a lot of comedic license. According to the Author’s Note at the end, the idea can from a desire to write a story about a fool and, after a conversation with his editor, turned into a story about the fool from Lear. Because this is Christopher Moore, it has a lot of knob jokes in it. Pocket, the fool, reminds me a lot of another of Moore’s characters: Biff. Biff, for those who haven’t read Lamb (if you haven’t, you simply must read this book), is Christ’s childhood friend who is hilarious, horny, and unafraid to say what’s on his mind no matter how much trouble he’ll get in.
In this retelling Lear, it turns out that the Glouchester subplot started because Pocket helped Edmund trick his father into disinheriting Edmund’s legitimate half-brother. And the rest of the Lear plot kind of snowballs from there. We learn more about the wicked elder sisters, Regan and Goneril, than you probably wanted to know. Moore highlights how whiny the fathers, Lear and Glouchester, are, since they were the cause of most of their own problems. Moore wrote in the Author’s Note that, after seeing more than thirty productions of the play, you want to push Lear off a cliff to stop the whinging.
SPOILER ALERT! STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON”T WANT TO LEARN HOW THE BOOK ENDS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
For the most part, the retelling works very well. The only part that didn’t ring true for me is when the ghost (“There’s always a bloody ghost”), tells Pocket that his father was Lear’s older brother and that his mother was raped at Lear’s insistence. Up until Pocket learns this, his is firmly the king’s man. But after that, of course, he hates the king and doesn’t want to do anything to help him. He also doesn’t care to get revenge on Lear. This plot twist seems like Moore needed something to turn Pocket against Lear. It doesn’t really serve a purpose otherwise, and it seems rather extreme. Plus, I could totally see who the ghost really was about half of the way into the story.
Still, this is a fantastic read. I didn’t do much today other than read Fool, because I was hooked from the first chapter. I love reading Moore’s books. I’m always assured of laugh-out-loud jokes and humor, wonderfully quirky characters, and a madcap plot. I can’t wait to see what Moore cooks up for his next novel.