PUBLISHER: William Morrow Paperbacks; Harper Collins Publishers Audio (originally published Feb. 2009)
LENGTH: 352 pages; 8 hours, 41 minutes
SOURCE: purchased audio
SUMMARY: (via chrismoore.com) A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear’s cherished fool for years, from the time the king’s grown daughters—selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia—were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege’s side when Lear—at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester—demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father’s request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.
Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country’s about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart’s wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He’s already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he’s going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering—cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)—to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear’s good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia’s twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who’s amenable to shagging along the way.
Pocket may be a fool . . . but he’s definitely not an idiot.
BRIDGE: This book is an amazing adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear. The major trepidation I have in recommending it as a Bridge Book is the raunchy nature of the humor. There’s really no other word for it – the sexual situations and language are definitely R-rated. However, I still feel it would be a great Bridge book for college students studying Shakespeare. While the focus of the blog is usually MG and YA literature, this book will provide great discussion topics for Shakespearean scholars and fans alike. Explorations of character, plot development, thematic elements…they’re all there even though the book is a crazy mash-up of one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies and the low-rent version of Elizabethan England.
Moore provides extensions of characters and blends cynicism, sarcasm, erotica, and tragedy seamlessly. His Lear is jut the right balance of crazy and desperate. The daughters are as conniving as one would expect them to be with just a touch more venom because they are given more feminine confidence. While Pocket seems to be a creation entirely of Moore’s mind, he melds nicely with Shakespeare’s traditional characters. It is easy to believe that the Black Fool existed and dispensed levity and wisdom in balanced measure to keep all of Shakespeare’s characters in line. Moore tends to stay true to the cadence and language, for the most part. Of course, there’s superfluous cussing, and I’m not sure if the f-word existed in the 13th century but, as all cuss words should, they add humor and emphasis in all the right places. Fans of The Bard will not go wrong with this racy version of one of literature’s most beloved tales. Just be warned: the faint of heart need not apply.
Afterword: Euan Morton’s narration of this tale on audiobook is superb. The different accents and tonalities used to represent different characters is impeccable. The pacing and emotive narration is beyond compare and I have no doubt that, had I read the text first, I would have been far less enamored of Moore’s tale. It is not to miss for fans of audiobooks.