Having read a very mixed bag of reviews about Christopher Moore's new book, Fool, all I knew for sure was that if I didn't hate it like Fizzy Thoughts did, I'd probably love it (like Books & Other Thoughts did). And now that I've read it and loved it, that's the wisdom I'll pass along to you: you're going to either love it or hate it. Real helpful, right? But fear not, dear readers! I've made a handy-dandy flow chart to help you determine which camp you'll fall into.
Fool is, roughly, Shakespeare's play King Lear, from the fool's point of view, and here lies the crux of the issue. Much of the shock value of Shakespeare's fools is lost on modern readers and viewers, because our standards of propriety have changed over the past five hundred years. Moore modernized his fool just enough to make me say, "Oh, no you didn't just say that!" at least once every few pages. For the first time, I truly understand the irreverence of the fool's role.
You have to be in the right frame of mind to find this guy funny, though. (In fact, he gets banished from Lear's kingdom for speaking his mind too plainly). Moore's irreverent sense of humor is in the same camp, to my mind, as Monty Python, so I think an appreciation for Python is a pretty good guage of whether you'll find this book the least bit funny.
I'm thankful I saw King Lear a couple years ago, because having that frame of reference really helped me appreciate the story. You can watch a good version from PBS's Great Performances online. If you're not familiar with the play, or it's been a while, I recommend this.
Which leads me to my flow chart. Start in the upper left-hand corner to determine whether you'll like Fool as much as I did, or you'd be a fool to waste your time with it (click on the image to view full size):
So, what do you think? Will you be reading Fool? Or, if you've already read it, do you agree with the flow chart's assumptions?