Fool - Christopher Moore Rating: 3+ stars

WARNING: 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 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!

I first met (figuratively speaking) Christopher Moore when I picked up a used copy of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It was cheap and I've always had a weakness for subversive reimaginings of Jesus that would have gotten authors and readers burned at the stake in bygone eras. I was pleasantly rewarded - Moore is a genuinely funny writer who believably incorporates a serious undertone in his prose. (An undertone that can surface in surprising and gruesomely violent ways - I'm remembering the slaughter of the women in the monastery from Lamb and the natal story of the Fool in this book or the fate of the Anchoress.)

Despite that, I don't think the book is more than a pleasant diversion. It's neither profound nor tragical enough to take a place among the greatest comedies but it is fun (and quick) to read, with delightful (perversely so) characters and witty dialog, and it does at least touch upon the themes of the original. I don't believe I'll ever be able to watch or read King Lear in quite the same way ever again.

If you're already a Moore fan, I think Fool will delight you; if you're also a fan of Shakespeare, you'll be doubly delighted. (Unless you're a fanatic Bardolator - in which case, you'll loath it since, as with all fanatics, you have no sense of humor.) Speaking of humor, since it is such an idiosyncratic beast, I hesitate to recommend the book to anyone not already familiar with the author. Yet, if you should happen to see it on a library shelf or in the bargain-books bin, someone gifts you, give it a try.