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Literary Friday: Fool and The Serpent of Venice *plus* Friday Confession for 5/2/2014

Friday, May 2, 2014

Recently I read Fool and The Serpent of Venice  by Christopher Moore.  The Serpent of Venice is (sort of) a sequel to Fool, but you can read it as a stand alone.

First of all, I think that Christopher Moore is.  Not.  Right.....(as we say in the brick short of a French Fry short of a Happy get the picture....) and although this is primarily a Literary Friday post, it's also a Friday Confessional post as Christopher Moore's books are definitely my guilty pleasures due to their twisted nature.  Sacré Bleu is one of my all-time favorite books, and you can read my review here.

Fool is a retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear, and I must warn you that there is a disclaimer printed in red on the book flap meant to prepare the reader for the "gratuitous shagging, spanking, murder, and profanity" among other things.  I must admit that I laughed out loud, and actually let the word "f^ckstockings" slip into conversation.  Accidentally.  

The hero of Fool is King Lear's cherished court jester named Pocket.  I confess I love his name, and I love Pocket's character.  Slight of build but quick of wit, Pocket's snarky assessments and hysterical asides (with the help of his puppet Jones) don't quite overpower his sweet and endearing spirit. (Speaking of spirits, be forewarned that there's always an "effing ghost," and this one follows Pocket all over Britain.)  He's Princess Cordelia's confidante and hero, and he manipulates people and events (with the help of three Scottish witches' sorcery, of course) to fix the mess that Lear makes of the kingdom due to his rash outrage at Cordelia's honesty and annoyance. It's fun how Moore "borrows" from several of the Bard's other plays, so if you love Shakespeare, social satire, and some of the wittiest dialogue ever written, then this is the book for you!

In The Serpent of Venice,  the genius of the story is it combines two of the Bard's plays, Othello and The Merchant of Venice with one of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories, "The Cask of Amontillado."  Plus, just for fun, Moore throws in an amphibious sea serpent/dragon that has very, um, odd tastes.  

I.  Love.  This.  BOOK!

Because the book is a sequel (of sorts) the setting is the twelfth century rather than the sixteenth century, but Moore explains in his notes how he worked out the history and the plots.  Fascinating reading, truly.   We find our Sweet Fool Pocket in Venice as Queen Cordelia's envoy.  He is attempting to thwart yet another expensive Crusade, but a cartel of creeptastic conspirators (Pocket thinks that over use of alliteration indicates madness  :/  ) lure Sweet Pocket to the basement of a palazzo promising wine and fun.  Pocket is then drugged and chained to a wall only to be walled-in by one of the sociopathic conspirators.  This part of the book gives me the willies.  I can't begin to imagine a basement in Venice *shivers uncontrollably*....

Pocket does escape because it wouldn't be much of a book if he didn't, and as in Fool, he's aided by yet another "effing ghost, because there's aways an effing ghost" to save tragic heroes and the honor of the fair Dread Pirate Jessica (love the nod to The Princess Bride).  But having a mythological creature (smuggled from the orient in Marco Polo's knapsack, of course) helps Pocket even more than having friends in high places.  Truly the serpent (and I'm not going to tell you her name) pushes the book just far enough over the edge to keep me very happy.

I confess that the language is bad in both of these books, but especially in Fool.  If you're offended by it, don't read it.  It really did bother me, but I liked the story and I loved Pocket in spite of the fact that he's the one with the language most foul.

I also confess that I really shouldn't read Christopher Moore because he hates Southern fiction written by women.  I guess being the West Coast Lib and all it's okay for him to be a mysogynistic hater...especially of Southern women. He just doesn't want to even attempt to relate to us Southern Gals...

"As far as I can tell, you make some cornbread, sew some calico, have sex with some close relatives, marry an abusive redneck who you are forced to kill with your Momma’s iron skillet , then you’re done. " 

ummmm....well......maybe that's the way it is in YOUR FAMILY (Moore's mama is Southern).  Mayhap this explains his pragmatic language issues and general madness.

Seriously, you can read about it on his website here.

So maybe now you understand why Moore's books are truly guilty pleasures to me.  He hates me and all my Zeta pledge sisters.  Well, let me tell you something, Mr. Christopher Moore:  You can go suck and elf!* You might hate me, but I hate myself more for LIKING YOUR PONCING BOOKS! (For the definition of ponce, read the books....)

Off to clean my cast iron skillet!

*Nicked from NBC's The Tenth Kingdom

If you're still following me after this rant-tastic review, please link-up to Literary Friday!

Literary Friday

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

(Yes, Mr. is a double name quite common in the South....while you're mocking me GO SUCK AN ELF!)


  1. Ricki, you are so funny;) Thank you for your honest view point here. When I read Friday Confessional I instantly had a flashback to my youth. I was raised Catholic and had to go to confession on Friday (I made up sins .. ha!) Have a wonderful weekend ahead. xxleslie

    1. I was reared in the Southern Baptist Church, but I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church last year. Almost everyone in my confirmation class is a former Baptist, and our church is a very "low" Episcopal Church. I have never been to confession in my life, although I have confessed a whole lot to God. But I enjoy Aubrey's Friday Confessional link party. It's *fun*

  2. Not an Autor I've heard of, and probably wouldn't read because of the bad language.

  3. Well look at you funny birthday girl! Can't wait for you cake confessional!!

  4. Just love Christopher Moore. I'm a lapsed Catholic. Guess I'll have to get back to that since small one starts at Catholic school in the fall.

  5. Oh RJ, you are so eflin funny! I hope you have a good weekend. I am going to try to post my book review but no promises. I have to finish the slide show for tomorrow all the memorial pamphlets are done now. I am happy with them.

  6. Ah, I can't wait to read these! I remember language was raw in Lamb, as well, but it was still a compelling story. And I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings made me cry. So odd, how that dichotomy can exist. :)

    As for writer's personal lives and beliefs, I realized some time ago that I can't judge their talent as a writer based off their personality. Many writers seem nuts, and some of the best-loved classic lit writers were wife-abusers, addicts, and worse. Hell, Orson Scott Card is a perfect example!

    So don't feel guilty about liking his's not the same as justifying his views by preaching them. :)

  7. Chuckling here, RJ. I've not read any of his books, but you have me intrigued. '-)

  8. OMG I LOVE his books too!! I read Lamb, which was funny. But i ADORED A Dirty Job. That is my fave of all time by him. As for his beliefs - what you wrote in response was hilarious. Wonderfully written, my dear. I'm a Lib, but I must admit, that's a little too far for my blood, esp coming from this sourthern Lady Liberal. LOL I will def have to add these two to my list. I haven't read much of his in a while - I started to read his vamp books, but never got to finish them as I lost them in a move. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I think I like your post about the book more than I would like the book.

    What a fun review!

  10. hahahaha you are so funny!! Those definitely sound like interesting books!

    Also, you hat is almost half way finished! Had a pretty busy weekend with sick kids so I didn't get many chances. But it will be done in the next day or so and mailed off :]


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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