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Fool (Moore)

Fool
Christopher Moore, 2009
HarperCollins
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780060590321


Summary
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 throbugh 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. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—August 5, 1958
Where—Toledo, Ohio, USA
Education—Ohio State Univ., Brooks Inst. of Photography
Awards—Quill Award, 2005 and 2006
Currently—Hawaii and San Francisco, California


A 100-year-old ex-seminarian and a demon set off together on a psychotic road trip...

Christ's wisecracking childhood pal is brought back from the dead to chronicle the Messiah's "missing years"...

A mild-mannered thrift shop owner takes a job harvesting souls for the Grim Reaper...

Whence come these wonderfully weird scenarios? From the fertile imagination of Christopher Moore, a cheerfully demented writer whose absurdist fiction has earned him comparisons to master satirists like Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams.

Ever since his ingenious debut, 1992's Practical Demonkeeping and his 2002 Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff , Moore has attracted an avid cult following. But, over the years, as his stories have become more multi-dimensional and his characters more morally complex, his fan base has expanded to include legions of enthusiastic general readers and appreciative critics.

Asked where his colorful characters come from, Moore points to his checkered job resume. Before becoming a writer, he worked at various times as a grocery clerk, an insurance broker, a waiter, a roofer, a photographer, and a DJ — experiences he has mined for a veritable rogue's gallery of unforgettable fictional creations. Moreover, to the delight of hardcore fans, characters from one novel often resurface in another. For example, the lovesick teen vampires introduced in 1995's Bloodsucking Fiends are revived (literally) for the 2007 sequel You Suck—which also incorporates plot points from 2006's A Dirty Job.

For a writer of satirical fantasy, Moore is a surprisingly scrupulous researcher. In pursuit of realistic details to ground his fiction, he has been known to immerse himself in marine biology, death rituals, Biblical scholarship, and Goth culture. He has been dubbed "the thinking man's Dave Barry" by none other than The Onion, a publication with a particular appreciation of smart humor.

As for story ideas, Moore elaborates on his website: "Usually [they come] from something I read. It could be a single sentence in a magazine article that kicks off a whole book. Ideas are cheap and easy. Telling a good story once you get an idea is hard." Perhaps. But, to judge from his continued presence on the bestseller lists, Chris Moore appears to have mastered the art.

Extras
From a 2006 Barnes & Noble interview:

• In researching his wild tales, Moore has done everything from taking excursions to the South Pacific to diving with whales. So what is left for the author to tackle? He says he'd like to try riding an elephant.

• One of the most memorably weird moments in Moore's body of work is no fictional invention. The scene in Bloodsucking Fiends where the late-night crew of a grocery store bowls with frozen turkeys is based on Moore's own experiences bowling with frozen turkeys while working the late shift at a grocery store.

When asked what book influenced his career as a writer, he answered:

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. In Cannery Row, Steinbeck writes about very flawed people, but with great affection, and by doing so, shows us that it is our flaws that make us human, and that is what we share, that is our humanity. A friend of mine used to say, "He writes with the voice of a benevolent God." In the process, the book is also very funny. I think I saw that as a model, as a guide. I'd always written humor that was fairly edgy, but here was a guy writing with great power and gentle humor. I was moved and inspired." (Author bio Barnes & Noble.)



Book Reviews
In truth, Fool is exuberantly, tirelessly, brazenly profane, vulgar, crude, sexist, blasphemous and obscene. Compared to Moore’s novel, even Mel Brooks’s hilariously tasteless film "Blazing Saddles" appears a model of stately 18th-century decorousness.
Michael Dirda - Washington Post Book World


In transforming King Lear into a potty-mouthed jape, Moore is up to more than thumbing his nose at a masterpiece. His version of Shakespeare’s fool, who accompanies Lear on his slide from paternal arrogance to spiritual desolation in the original text, simultaneously honors and imaginatively enriches the character.
San Francisco Chronicle


Moore is a very clever boy when it comes to words. There are good chuckles to be had in this tale. …Whether you need to read the original King Lear before you read Moore’s Fool is debatable. Seems a fool’s errand to us. Just enjoy.
USA Today


Often funny, sometimes hilarious, always inventive, this is a book for all, especially uptight English teachers, bardolaters and ministerial students of the kind who come to our doorstep on Saturday mornings.
Dallas Morning News


(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.
Publishers Weekly


While a jolly good time can be had...., King Lear is one tough play to parody, at least at this length, and the book feels like something Moore had to get out of his system. His legion of fans will forgivingly enjoy it, while newcomers should be quickly steered toward The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (1999) or The Stupidest Angel (2004) for a giddy taste of Moore at his ludicrous best.
Ray Olson - Booklist


Less may be more, but it isn’t Moore. Wretched excess doth have power to charm, and there are great reeking oodles of it strewn throughout these irreverent pages.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Fool:

1. Christopher Moore has said that as the King's fool (or court jester) Pocket is in a position to speak "truth to power." What does he mean by that comment?

2. What does Moore gain by telling the story through the perspective of Pocket, the fool?

3. Why does Cordelia refuse to yield to Lear's demand that his daughters swear their love and devotion to him? (It's a point that has puzzled some critics of Shakespeare for eons.)

4. If familiar with Shakespeare's King Lear, can you identify some of the parallels with, and departures from, the original? Can you identify insertions from other Shakespeare plays?

5. Is Moore successful at turning Lear, one of Shakespeare's most tragic and grisly plays, into a comedy. Is Fool funny?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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