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Fool: 06/15/09

Christopher Moore writes too kinds of stories: light hearted irrelevant novels (set typically in California or on far away tropical islands) and parodies. The latter have recurring mix and match characters. I adore these novels, even the much maligned Fluke. The latter, not so much.

Fool is a parody and fans of Lamb seem to love it. I'm going to guess that the opposite is also true. If you're like me and didn't like Lamb, you probably won't like Fool.

The book starts with King Lear and more generally the works of William Shakespeare. It's told from the the point of view of the Fool, a character who disappears mid play to allow for dual role playing with for the actor playing Cordelia. Since Fool isn't a major character, Moore has to fill in the blanks, just as he attempted (and failed) to do in the middle years of Jesus's life.

Besides trying to fill in the blanks ala Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Moore is attempting (and failing again) to write in the style of William Shakespeare. There are a few problems with this approach. He doesn't understand British slang or British regional accents as well as he thinks he does and he's not crude enough. That's right; this "bawdy" tale is hardly bawdy. The humor never really gets beyond the pedestrian stuff in a typical Mike Myers film. Shakespeare's stuff is funnier and cruder. To make things worse, the book has all these pointless footnotes to "explain" the slang in the book. Unfortunately he picks obvious words and gives them rather plain definitions. Am I supposed to be shocked by a fellow American giggling at the word "wanker?"

My last complaint with the books, and Moore's parodies in general, is the pacing. Fool like Lamb starts off in the middle of the story being parodied and as long as it's following the original story closely. As soon as Fool disappears from the real play, Moore is lost. He tries to bandy around some ideas and throws some other Shakespearian tragedies into a blender and then giggles at the results. Then somewhere near the end Moore comes to his senses (just as he did in Lamb) and gets back to parodying the original text. For Fool he creates a completely different ending, reminiscent of the The Player and for a brief sixty pages the book reads like the Moore I enjoy.

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