Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Fool

Filed under: Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Sunday, I finished Fool: A Novel by Christopher Moore.

First of all, you should know that I pretty well love almost anything that Christoper Moore has written.  Granted, some are better than others, but I started with him back when Practical Demonkeeping was new and not even a best-seller yet.  It always struck me as funny when my parents told me about this “new” author who’d written a brilliant re-telling of the Gospel titled Lamb:The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal.  So, that enthusiasm for his work may effect the way I see his most current work.

But, I’ll say this, it is good.
Fool is a retelling of King Lear from the point of view of Lear’s jester, commonly known as a fool.  Naturally, that’s where the book gets its title.  Now, King Lear, if you’re not familiar, is a play by William Shakespeare about a king who, for foolish reasons, divides his kingdom amongst his three daughters, based on how much flattery they can heap on him.  The only problem is one of his daughters, the most faithful and true, in fact, won’t play the game, so he splits his kingdom between his two deceitful, unfaithful daughters.  They’re supposed to take care of Lear in his old age, but they really don’t want to take care of him so he’s sort of forced into the Medieval equivalent of homelessness.  It’s quite the tragedy.  But not in Christopher Moore’s hands.

No, Moore takes this tragedy and makes it into a damn fine comedy, thanks to his narrator.
Moore is mostly true to the story according to Shakespeare, but with a few additional anachronisms.  His writing is light and pithy and quite enjoyable, not to mention smooth and easy.  Really, considering the weight of the subject matter, it’s a testament to his writing that the book moves so easily and well.
The story follows a fellow named Pocket, who is born somewhat disadvantaged and orphaned.  He’s left on the doorstep of a nunnery and it’s the nuns who raise him.  He has some misadventures along the way to adulthood and a job working for Lear as a fool, though we see all that as various flashbacks.  The main story line starts with Pocket relating the tale of how he watched Lear foolishly divide his kingdom.  Then, the tragic results of that somewhat stupid decision.  But, as I mentioned, somehow, he manages to make it a comedy.

Oh, hell, you’ve probably read or seen King Lear at least once.  This is the same story only funnier and written in more modern language.  And, anything by Moore is pretty good, so, all in all, I’m saying, buy this book and read it.  You won’t be sorry.



Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I’m still here.

I’d have quoted Monty Python and the Holy Grail and written, “I’m not dead yet!”, but I notice that some folks don’t quite have the same dark sense of humor about my cancer that I do, so I thought better of it.  I’ve really gotten out of the habit of writing anything on the blog here and, I have to admit, it bothers me a bit.  Sure, I have excuses for why, not the least of which is chemotherapy, but when things are going well and I’m not actually in the hospital, I probably could write a bit more than I have.  I have been trying to read more, too.  So much time laying in bed in the hospital has almost over-dosed me on television, which is a Good Thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

I was in the clinic today, getting checked over, and then had the afternoon to relax a bit and rest.  I took that time and did just lay about and, well, read.  In fact, I finished  You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore this afternoon.  It’s a great book, even if it’s not his best, but it’s a sequal to Blood Sucking Fiends: A Love Story and you’ll be hopelessly lost if you don’t read that one first.  Hmm, maybe I’ll review those this week, if I maintain my mental and emotional stamina.  I actually feel pretty good tonight, which, of course, means that it’s about time to check into the hospital again.  And, in fact, I’ll be back in on Monday for five fun-filled days of chemotherapy.

In any case, I just wanted to put something in here so that folks knew I was alive and well and progressing the way the doctors want me to do.  There are a million other things floating about in my head, too, but as yet they’re too nebulous and unformed for me to write about.  Maybe soon.  Stay well everyone.


Review: The Stupidest Angel

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Personal,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:02 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I finished The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore this week.

I’d been trying to slog my way through A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation, but with my work schedule and the holidays and all, I just couldn’t get into it. I mean, I’m sure it would have been good for me to start meditating again, but I haven’t done that since college and there are reasons. Mainly, I have no time. I pray and use prayer beads and that’s enough meditation-like behavior for me and my schedule. Besides, I was getting depressed with all my friends either being married or getting married or at least in a serious relationship, so I figured a little literary “pick-me-up” was in order.

In that regard, The Stupidest Angel; A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror was just the thing. Yes, you read that second title right. It wasn’t just a Christmas story, it was also a zombie story. Only Christopher Moore could write something like that and pull it off. The story is set in Pine Cove, which is where a number of Moore’s earlier books were set, and involves a collection of characters from several of his novels. It starts simply enough with some introductions and stage setting for those not familiar with Pine Cove or all of Moore’s other works, then, with an accidental murder, the real story begins. Things get interesting when Raziel, one of the rather more important angels, shows up to work the annual Christmas Miracle that, apparently, has been a gift to mankind every year since the birth of the Christ child. The only problem is, Raziel isn’t the smartest angel and he doesn’t really quite understand our Earth. So, when he decides to grant the Christmas wish of a nice boy who witnessed the accidental murder of a man dressed like Santa Claus, as you might imagine, things go awry. The result is, indeed, a heart-warming tale of Christmas terror, which, incidentally, is a rather odd journey through the Christmas spirit, love, giving, forgiving and belief that only Christopher Moore could lead a reader through successfully. And, as always, Moore’s wit, charm and turn of phrase brought a smile to my face, so, “mission accomplished”.

If you’ve never read one of Moore’s books, The Stupidest Angel is probably not the best place to start. I’d reccomend either Lamb or Practical Demonkeeping as a starting point, but, after that, it doesn’t matter quite so much where you go. Though, I have to admit, reading them in more or less the order of publication keeps you up on all the “in” jokes and cross-references that might otherwise be missed.
In short, I love Christopher Moore’s writing and The Stupidest Angel was no exception.


Review: A Dirty Job

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:04 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished A Dirty Job : A Novel by Christopther Moore the other day.

Now, if you’ve never read anything by Christopher Moore, you simply must. I reccomend starting with Practical Demon Keeping. It was his earliest work, if I recall correctly, and what I started reading. I do not reccomend this lightly. There are tonnes of “in jokes” that refer back to his earlier writing that yo won’t get if you start with A Dirty Job. Other than that, though, I cannot say enough about how wonderful this book is. Truly, as he gets older, Moore’s writing gets better and better.

The book opens with the birth of Sophie Asher, an event that sends her father, Charlie, into quite a state. This emotional whirlwind is not improved by his wife’s death or the mysterious stranger in the lime-green suit that only Charlie can see hovering over his wife’s death bed. What’s more, having a somewhat self-involved, slightly closeted lesbian sister who meddles a bit too much probably didn’t improve things much for poor Charlie, either. Certainly, getting his copy of the Great Big Book of Death redirected out of his mail by an employee didn’t help one bit, either. Turns out, old Charlie is a Death Merchant and, according to Minty Fresh, the man in the lime-green suit, his “job” is to collect soul containers from the recently deceased and pass them on to their new homes, thus aiding the transmigration of souls and holding back the forces of darkness.
Believe it or not, this book is a relatively light-hearted comedic romp through a strange and dark San Francisco that touches on the topics of death, life and everything inbetween along the way. As in one of his earlier books, Lamb, Moore handles some delicate ideas surrounding spirituality with grace and skill and wit.  In spite of being about a rather heavy and potentially “dark” subject (eg. Death), Moore manages to spin a fun yarn filled with magic, mystery and delight.

In short, as with all of his work that I’ve read, I highly reccomend A Dirty Job : A Novel by Christopther Moore.  It’s brilliant work and a fun, breezy read that will have you looking for ways to make more time to read.  One warning, though, once you start reading Moore, you’ll want to read more.

Oh, I also read the inspirational book  A Better Way to Live : Og Mandino’s Own Personal Story of Success Featuring 17 Rules to Live By, which was a fairly good, if short read.  Given a choice, go with the Moore books.

Currently, I’m reading Angels & Demons because, well, because I have it, and it was reccomended to me by several people.  Besides, all this nice weather demands fiction that’s fun, not non-fiction that’s going to teach me something.


Book Reviews

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,On The Road,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:06 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I got a lot of reading done while I was out of town.
In fact, I read two books last week while I was on the road. I reviewed them over at my other blog, the Fantasist’s Scroll. You can go there to read my reviews of Coyote Blue and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. Both fiction by Christopher Moore.
Currently, I’m reading a self-help book of sorts, but it’s sort of strange, so I’m keeping that one to myself.

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