Fool

Yours always
by Christopher Moore | Humor |
ISBN: 9780060590314 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 3/24/2020
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, March 24, 2020
I found this hardcover in this Little Free Library in Groton MA while dropping off some books of my own. I enjoyed it when I first read it, and was glad of another release copy.

The book's a Moore-ian take on Shakespeare's "King Lear" (and on the not-quite-real worlds of many of Shakespeare's other plays), with Lear's jester being the central character. It's also very bawdy. In fact, there's a big warning up front: "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 non-traditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank. If that sort of thing bothers you, then gentle reader pass by, for we endeavor only to entertain, not to offend. That said, if that's the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!"

First reaction: footnotes. LOTS of footnotes. Most of them are simply definitions of Shakespearian-type terms, but some of them are a bit more than that, so do check 'em out. [One example: "Bubble dropped a gutless trout into a bushel of slippery cofishes.*" "*Cofishes - other fish in a group, coworkers, cohorts, etc. Shut up, it's a word."]

As for the rest of the text: as the title suggests, this book's about - and narrated by - King Lear's court jester, known in the play only as "fool". Here, he has a name, Pocket. (He's named his jester-head-on-a-stick as well: it's called Jones.) There are also random encounters with characters from other plays, including very funny reference to "Green Eggs and Hamlet". And there's a lot of mostly-made-up back story for the major characters, giving us some interesting views as to how they all turned out the way they did. Some of these ideas fit in very well with the characters in the play, while others seem a bit of a stretch, but it does provide a good sense of the rigors of life among the mighty-but-deranged in that time and place.

Oh, and the book does, um, rearrange the ending of the play just a tad. In some cases I found it a considerable improvement, but I wanted to mention it as a caution to any purists who think they know how it turns out {grin}.

Also recommended: the author's note at the end, in which Moore explains how he came to write about Lear's fool in the first place. He also addresses the question of whether it would be helpful to re-read the original play as background to the story:

"I suspect that way madness lies. Fool quotes or paraphrases lines from no fewer than a dozen of the plays, and I'm not even sure what came from which at this point. I've done this largely to throw off reviewers, who will be reluctant to cite and criticize passages of my writing, lest they were penned by the Bard hisownself. (I once had a reviewer take me to task for writing awkward prose, and the passage he cited was one of my characters quoting Thoreau's 'On Civil Disobedience.' You don't get many moments in life; pointing that out to the reviewer was one of mine.)"


[I confess that I went ahead and picked up this No Fear edition, with the original text and a modern paraphrased translation, and found that it added to my enjoyment of Fool -- largely for the contrast!]

Overall, a Very Bawdy Indeed peek behind the Shakespearian scenes, and a lot of fun.

[There's a TV Tropes page for the novel with some entertaining tidbits, but do beware of spoilers.]

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Park and Ride (at Exit 2) bookshelf in Salem, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Released 5 days ago (3/25/2020 UTC) at Park and Ride (at Exit 2) bookshelf in Salem, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Guidelines for safely visiting and stocking Little Free Libraries from the LFL site here.

I left this book in the book-swap shelf inside the bus terminal; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2020 Four Elements challenge, for the embedded "moor" in the author's name. ***

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