Fool is the comic retelling of King Lear, from the Fool’s perspective. The Fool’s real name is Pocket, named by the nuns who took him in as an abandoned baby because he could fit in the Mother Superior’s pocket. (I know the term for her was not Mother Superior, but the book is in the other room and I don’t want to get up right now.)
As I’ve said before, I’ve read a good many of Christopher Moore’s novels. I’m down to two: The Island of the Sequined Love Nun (most likely no relation to the aforementioned Mother Superior) and Coyote Blue. In terms of humor, Fool falls somewhere between Lamb and probably Bloodsucking Fiends. I never fell out of my chair as I did during the Sermon on the Mount, but it was much funnier than Fluke was.
Pocket tells the story with a bawdy tone: wenches and laundresses have “gadonkability,” there is much “bonking,” and his epithet of choice is “Fuckstockings.” Yes, I will totally start saying “fuckstockings” in my daily life. Go ahead: try it. Say it out loud. Try not to giggle afterwards.
Christopher Moore does take some liberties with the plot. Somehow, Macbeth‘s Three Witches from Birnham Wood appear (I’m not entirely sure the Witches themselves were of the Birnham Wood in the original play [Macbeth, not Lear, duh], but Birnham Wood was supposed to march upon Elsinore … no, wait, that’s wrong … y’know? Don’t correct me. That’ll be a goal of 2010: Read all of Shakespeare’s plays) (longest. digression. ever.), and there’s always a bloody ghost.
I think Moore does an admirable job attempting to bring some humor into one of the darkest tragedies Shakespeare’s written. He at least gives it a somewhat happy ending. But there are still double-crosses, Edmund’s still a bastard (literally and descriptively), and at the end of it, he’s able to wrap some odd loose ends up in a little pretty bow with bells on it.
If you liked Lamb and have a passing affection for Shakespeare, read this book.
Grade for Fool: 4 stars