Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cannonball Read #30: Fool - Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is his own worst enemy. And considering the man is my favourite authour and that his work easily take up a rather large portion of my Top 10 books, that's saying something. I'll go into this in a bit, but let's start with the obligatory plot synopsis and things I liked, shall we?

Fool is set entirely in the universe of Shakespeare's King Lear. Hey, it works for Tim Burton, doesn't it? Anyway, the story is told by the titular Fool, Pocket, a tiny little guy tasked with cheering up Lear's youngest daughter Cordelia. The plot is set into motion when Lear decides to divvy up the land based on how well his daughters can stroke his ego. Lear's first two daughters, Goneril and Regan, bullshit him to within an inch of his life and are rewarded with huge swaths of kingdom (don't spend it all in one place!) Cordelia, on the other hand, tells her father she loves him but refuses to stroke his ego, and is justly given das boot. Lear, now fully enraged, dumps his closes friend, gives away Pocket's best friend Drool and generally goes about creating a huge clusterfuck which Pocket now has to clean up.

From the perspective of actual writing, this is easily one of Moore's tightest narratives. Unlike a few of his other books, each scene has at least some impact on the plot altogether, rather than feeling like a clever little aside. He even manages to incorporate Shakespeare's lingo in a way that feels natural without turning the book into either outright mockery or a strict wall of impenetrable text.

The downside is that his characterization, if I may say, fucking awful. Christopher Moore has a bit of a habit of sticking himself into his stories the same way a toddler might force two puzzle pieces together with a hammer and sheer determination. Sometimes, this works (see: A Dirty Job), but usually the protagonist ends up being a lame dork who for some reason walks around knee-deep in A-class poon, thus making them aggravating AND wholly unbelievable.

And that's what Pocket is: An irritating little man who somehow manages to bang chicks and my God does he ever bang a lot of chicks. And just in case you're worried these women have anything resembling a personality, surprise! They don't! The women in the story essentially hang around as a place for the men in the story to put their penises. Hell, even Lear's daughters are essentially characterized by their sexual fetishes. There are about two women in the entire story who have anything close to resembling an actual personality, and even they barely do anything more than play around with his libido. Christ, you'd think with all the flack Jezebel is giving The Daily Show for hiring Olivia Munn, they might maybe lob a couple rocks over at Moore.

It hurts me to say this, but despite a tight narrative, Fool may be one of Moore's weaker books, based solely on just how dreadfully bad he writes his characters. Come on Chris; try writing about someone other then yourself for a change here.


Figgy said...

How appropriate! I was just about to ask you over facebook which Christopher Moore book I should read next. I just finished "Lamb" and LOVED it (sorta )reviewed it on my blog and really want to get more of his stuff, but don't know where to start. What do you recommend?

Patrick Holt said...

Fool was the first Moore novel that I didn't finish