If it is considered blasphemy to dabble about with the works of William Shakespeare, then there are few authors as versed in creative blasphemy as Christopher Moore. In his book Fool, Moore reconstructs the Bard's classic tragedy King Lear to center around the court jester Pocket, while simultaneously cribbing bits of various other Shakespeare plays and cramming them in for extra hilarity. Thus unfolds a story of murder and mayhem, war and witches, taking the Shakespearean plot and seasoning it with boundless bawdiness and brouhaha. Pocket proves not only a darkly comic protagonist, but a capable one as well. Armed with his wit, cunning, throwing knives, and puppet, by the conclusion of the book he manages to make fools out of royals and royals out of fools. The true highlights of the book are the flashbacks, the glimpses into Pocket's past both as an orphan and his days of being jester to Lear's daughters are not only excessively hilarious, but also filled with character pathos that helps temper the over-the-top nature of the book with the humanization of its characters.
Fool dances in tone, alternating between the raunchiest of humor to the darkest tragedy as Moore's comedy clashes with the drama of Shakespeare's plot. Yet these alternations do not muddle the tone but instead accentuate each, the humor being that much more funny for the despair that surrounds it, and vice versa. While not for the easily offended or scandalized, Fool proves that it is definitely possible to improve upon the classics.
Tim @ Central