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Fool: A Novel (Hardcover)

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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Product Description

"This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank . . . If that's the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!"

Verily speaks Christopher Moore, much beloved scrivener and peerless literary jester, who hath writteneth much that is of grand wit and belly-busting mirth, including such laurelled bestsellers of the Times of Olde Newe Yorke as Lamb, A Dirty Job, and You Suck (no offense). Now he takes on no less than the legendary Bard himself (with the utmost humility and respect) in a twisted and insanely funny tale of a moronic monarch and his deceitful daughters—a rousing story of plots, subplots, counterplots, betrayals, war, revenge, bared bosoms, unbridled lust . . . and a ghost (there's always a bloody ghost), as seen through the eyes of a man wearing a codpiece and bells on his head.


A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear's cherished fool for years, from the time the king's grown daughters—selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia—were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege's side when Lear—at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester—demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father's request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.

Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country's about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart's wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He's already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he's going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering—cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)—to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear's good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia's twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who's amenable to shagging along the way.

Pocket may be a fool . . . but he's definitely not an idiot.

When we are born, we cry, that we are come to this great stage of fools, September 29, 2008
By Susan Tunis (San Francisco, CA)

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.

Awesome in it's Awesomeness! Bodacious in its Bodaciousness!, February 9, 2009
By Michael P. Spradlin Sr. "Bad Sprad" (Lapeer, MI United States)

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!