Shakespeare for Squirrels
New York Times Bestseller!Shakespeare meets Dashiell Hammett in this wildly entertaining murder mystery from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore—an uproarious, hardboiled take on the Bard’s most performed play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring Pocket, the hero of Fool and The Serpent of Venice, along with his sidekick, Drool, and pet monkey, Jeff.Set adrift by his pirate crew, Pocket of Dog Snogging—last seen in The Serpent of Venice—washes up on the sun-bleached shores of Greece, where he hopes to dazzle the Duke with his comedic brilliance and become his trusted fool.But the island is in turmoil. Egeus, the Duke’s minister, is furious that his daughter Hermia is determined to marry Demetrius, instead of Lysander, the man he has chosen for her. The Duke decrees that if, by the time of the wedding, Hermia still refuses to marry Lysander, she shall be executed . . . or consigned to a nunnery. Pocket, being Pocket, cannot help but point out that this decree is complete bollocks, and that the Duke is an egregious weasel for having even suggested it. Irritated by the fool’s impudence, the Duke orders his death. With the Duke’s guards in pursuit, Pocket makes a daring escape.He soon stumbles into the wooded realm of the fairy king Oberon, who, as luck would have it, IS short a fool. His jester Robin Goodfellow—the mischievous sprite better known as Puck—was found dead. Murdered. Oberon makes Pocket an offer he can’t refuse: he will make Pocket his fool and have his death sentence lifted if Pocket finds out who killed Robin Goodfellow. But as anyone who is even vaguely aware of the Bard’s most performed play ever will know, nearly every character has a motive for wanting the mischievous sprite dead.With too many suspects and too little time, Pocket must work his own kind of magic to find the truth, save his neck, and ensure that all ends well.A rollicking tale of love, magic, madness, and murder, Shakespeare for Squirrels is a Midsummer Night’s noir—a wicked and brilliantly funny good time conjured by the singular imagination of Christopher Moore.

Shakespeare for Squirrels Details

TitleShakespeare for Squirrels
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 12th, 2020
PublisherWilliam Morrow
ISBN-139780062434029
Rating
GenreHumor, Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Comedy

Shakespeare for Squirrels Review

  • Erikka
    January 1, 1970
    Moore has outdone himself. With the exception of Lamb, this may be my favorite book of his yet. After the brutal misstep of Noir, I thought he'd lost his edge. Fear not, Pocket and Drool are back for their third Shakespearean jaunt and this time it's Midsummer Night's Dream, my favorite play. There were several parts in this book where I laughed until my side hurt or my eyes teared up. The fairies are absolutely brilliant, the frequently quoted line is the goblins (which I won't ruin, but they s Moore has outdone himself. With the exception of Lamb, this may be my favorite book of his yet. After the brutal misstep of Noir, I thought he'd lost his edge. Fear not, Pocket and Drool are back for their third Shakespearean jaunt and this time it's Midsummer Night's Dream, my favorite play. There were several parts in this book where I laughed until my side hurt or my eyes teared up. The fairies are absolutely brilliant, the frequently quoted line is the goblins (which I won't ruin, but they say it constantly) cracked me up, and the play at the end is perfection. Moore manages to create a different concluding play by the craftsmen while keeping their inherent characteristics that made them such unique characters. That's the best part--the bones of MSND are all here. It's still the same basic story, just bastardized in a way only Moore can do. And with squirrels. So many sodding squirrels.
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  • Stacy Fetters
    January 1, 1970
    "It would be just fitting that the only man who would deign to talk to me is a hat-shagging monkey. She leaned in closely. You, sir, have the look of a hat shagger."Oh, f**kastockings! He’s back! It’s Pocket! Pocket is back with a new mysterious tale with his merry little band of a**holes. Here we have quite an odd mysterious tale of murder, hat shagging, and a gaggle of fools with a Midsummer Night’s Dream thrown in for good measure. Moore takes us on a uproariously and murderous journey that y "It would be just fitting that the only man who would deign to talk to me is a hat-shagging monkey. She leaned in closely. You, sir, have the look of a hat shagger."Oh, f**kastockings! He’s back! It’s Pocket! Pocket is back with a new mysterious tale with his merry little band of a**holes. Here we have quite an odd mysterious tale of murder, hat shagging, and a gaggle of fools with a Midsummer Night’s Dream thrown in for good measure. Moore takes us on a uproariously and murderous journey that you’ll never forget. It’s lewd, crude, and downright filthy and it’s exactly what I need in my life. This wasn’t exactly my favorite book that Pocket has lead but I still loved this one. Shakespeare for Squirrels was amazing. I laughed and cringed and it’s exactly how I want to feel reading something of this magnitude. Moore never disappoints and if you’re looking for something off the wall and crazy, he’s your man. No disappointments ever. Who knew that Shakespeare could be so entertaining and crude?
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  • Ashley Noelle Lewis
    January 1, 1970
    I received this as an ARC from NetGalley. Let me start by saying that I love Christopher Moore's novels, but he set the bar really high for me with Lamb and nothing has been that good since. With that said, this humorous retelling of Midsummer Night's Dream was absurd in all the right kind of ways. The ridiculousness that Pocket involves himself in never ceases to amaze and entertain me and I will continue to read about him as long as Moore keeps writing about him. If you need a good laugh at so I received this as an ARC from NetGalley. Let me start by saying that I love Christopher Moore's novels, but he set the bar really high for me with Lamb and nothing has been that good since. With that said, this humorous retelling of Midsummer Night's Dream was absurd in all the right kind of ways. The ridiculousness that Pocket involves himself in never ceases to amaze and entertain me and I will continue to read about him as long as Moore keeps writing about him. If you need a good laugh at some wonderfully lewd humor I would suggest this.
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  • J.S. Bailey
    January 1, 1970
    I work in a bookstore. Every month we receive ARCs from publishers, and when Shakespeare for Squirrels came in, I thought it sounded like something Terry Pratchett would have written, and that it would be funny.It was not.
  • Geoffrey
    January 1, 1970
    (Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for a review)This is actually my first go at a Christopher Moore book, and due to my initial unfamiliarity, I ended diving in headfirst without realizing that Moore has an array of different ongoing series and recurring characters like Pocket the Fool. But my entrance into this particular series quite out of order ended up proving to be no detriment. The bigger challenge was getting used to the surprisingly (Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for a review)This is actually my first go at a Christopher Moore book, and due to my initial unfamiliarity, I ended diving in headfirst without realizing that Moore has an array of different ongoing series and recurring characters like Pocket the Fool. But my entrance into this particular series quite out of order ended up proving to be no detriment. The bigger challenge was getting used to the surprisingly raunch-heavy style of humor that permeates the book from beginning to end. At times it definitely felt a little too thickly layered onto everything, to say the very least. But eventually, I was able to accept the book's setting for what it was - an absurd, magic-laced place seemingly populated almost entirely by jerks of all types and species, where everyone is so blatantly flawed in their own way and where most everything is varying degrees of ridiculous that not even the main characters can take their world very seriously. And once I was able to embrace this, not only was I able to enjoy the cheeky ludicrousness that permeated everything, but I was quickly able to become unexpectedly and deeply engaged in the A Midsummer Night's Dream-themed mystery at the heart of the plot, with all its twists and turns that sent Pocket and a bizarre cast of supporting characters dashing about a fantastical medieval Athens enduring no small amount of misadventures. All in all, it was very absurd and very irreverent fun. If Moore’s other works are anything like this, then I definitely plan on giving his other works a try the next time I find myself in the mood for a light, coarsely comical, and very readable romp.
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  • Angus McKeogh
    January 1, 1970
    Not a bad read at all. The third of the series. And if I was rating them in order; the first book was phenomenal (5-stars), the second was a mediocre follow up (definitely third in line in the series), and I’d place this third book as the second best of the lot.
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  • Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    *3.5 StarsI would call myself a fan of Christopher Moore, yes, this is only the third book of his that I have read, but the other two really hit home for me. I love how Moore can create complete ridiculousness and craft a captivating story around it. I even did my homework in preparation for Shakespeare for Squirrels by reading, for the first time, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.I have to admit that neither one really hit home for me. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a bit of a bore, I never really got *3.5 StarsI would call myself a fan of Christopher Moore, yes, this is only the third book of his that I have read, but the other two really hit home for me. I love how Moore can create complete ridiculousness and craft a captivating story around it. I even did my homework in preparation for Shakespeare for Squirrels by reading, for the first time, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.I have to admit that neither one really hit home for me. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a bit of a bore, I never really got the laughs and chuckles out of it like the other Shakespearean comedies that I’ve read. I don’t know if it was a lack of connection with the base material or just where I was in my life or perhaps that Shakespeare for Squirrels was not Christopher Moore at his best, but I really didn’t form a connection with this story.Don’t get me wrong, Shakespeare for Squirrels is filled with all of Moore’s trademark humor, with outrageous situations and over the top characters. I kept interrupting my wife’s reading to recount some brilliantly crafted jokes; however, I just wasn’t pulled into the story. I just didn’t care what happened to whom. I’m always disappointed when this happens, I want my stories to take me away to another time and place, away from my own real life.Shakespeare for Squirrels is a fine story. Moore did his thing; I’ve always considered him to be the Weird Al Yankovic of the literary world. He takes a story, theme, concept that the audience is familiar with and he creates something new and original that is completely recognizable and filled with laughs and knee-slapping humor. It’s just that not every song can be “Eat It.”*I received a copy of the book from the publisher (via Edelweiss).
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  • Zoe's Human
    January 1, 1970
    Once again the intrepid Pocket of Dog Snogging is immersed in "heinous fuckery most foul" as he becomes entangled in the machinations of King Theseus, Hippolyta, Oberon, and Titania. With his apprentice jailed and his hat-shagging monkey missing, Pocket finds himself depending on a band of amateur thespians, a frolicking fairy, and a most unreliable narrator to solve the mystery of an unexpected death in just three days.This ribald tribute to A Midsummer Night's Dream is some of Moore's best wor Once again the intrepid Pocket of Dog Snogging is immersed in "heinous fuckery most foul" as he becomes entangled in the machinations of King Theseus, Hippolyta, Oberon, and Titania. With his apprentice jailed and his hat-shagging monkey missing, Pocket finds himself depending on a band of amateur thespians, a frolicking fairy, and a most unreliable narrator to solve the mystery of an unexpected death in just three days.This ribald tribute to A Midsummer Night's Dream is some of Moore's best work. Loaded with insults to make the Bard proud, it is laugh-out-loud hilarious and a rousing adventure to boot. In the words of Cobweb "That were smashing!"I received a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity.
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  • Shirley Eiswerth (Quackenbush)
    January 1, 1970
    I’m pretty sure I’m actually a character in one of Christopher Moore’s books and I don’t know it.. I laugh out loud wherever I may be reading his books, dirty/innuendos, sarcasm and snark are my signature traits, that and the occasional made up word and cuss words... I adore this humor, and when mixed with one of my loves, Shakespeare, it’s a true f’ing delight... I love Pocket, I love the shit he pulls and snark and sarcasm he gives, I love his bawdiness and spunk... he makes the plays of Shake I’m pretty sure I’m actually a character in one of Christopher Moore’s books and I don’t know it.. I laugh out loud wherever I may be reading his books, dirty/innuendos, sarcasm and snark are my signature traits, that and the occasional made up word and cuss words... I adore this humor, and when mixed with one of my loves, Shakespeare, it’s a true f’ing delight... I love Pocket, I love the shit he pulls and snark and sarcasm he gives, I love his bawdiness and spunk... he makes the plays of Shakespeare damn hilarious!
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  • Jessica Haider
    January 1, 1970
    Shakespeare for Squirrels, the latest from Christopher Moore, features the same protagonist as Fool and The Serpent of Venice. This time Pocket is back with a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this tale, he has washed up on Greek shores and is soon enough trying to solve a mystery in the style of The Maltese Falcon. (yes a Shakespeare Hammett mash-up!)As to be expected from Moore, this book is raucous, bawdy, absurd, and goofy. There's loads of puerile humor. The story is not an exact r Shakespeare for Squirrels, the latest from Christopher Moore, features the same protagonist as Fool and The Serpent of Venice. This time Pocket is back with a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this tale, he has washed up on Greek shores and is soon enough trying to solve a mystery in the style of The Maltese Falcon. (yes a Shakespeare Hammett mash-up!)As to be expected from Moore, this book is raucous, bawdy, absurd, and goofy. There's loads of puerile humor. The story is not an exact retelling of Midsummer Night's Dream but is a fun twist on it with lots of the same characters: Puck, Oberon, Peaseblossom, Titiana. This is actually the 2nd retelling of Midsummer that I've read in the past year. Moore's novel Lamb is one of my ALL TIME favorite books. This book didn't quite measure up to Lamb for me, but it was still a fun escapist read. I received a digital copy of this book from edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Karen ⚜Mess⚜
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book from the Goodreads Giveaway! Love that cover and love Christopher Moore.
  • Shorty
    January 1, 1970
    This delightful novel was a joy to listen to. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it, especially because of the talented narrator involved. But more on this subject later.I’ve read all three novels in the Fool series, even though it appears on my goodreads page that I’ve only read the first and the third of the novels. But I swear, right after the second novel in the series came out, (The Serpent of Venice,) I got ahold of a copy as soon as I possibly could, most likely at my local library. I e This delightful novel was a joy to listen to. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it, especially because of the talented narrator involved. But more on this subject later.I’ve read all three novels in the Fool series, even though it appears on my goodreads page that I’ve only read the first and the third of the novels. But I swear, right after the second novel in the series came out, (The Serpent of Venice,) I got ahold of a copy as soon as I possibly could, most likely at my local library. I even remember some of the scenes in the novel....but as to why I didn’t register the second novel on my gr ‘read’ list, I have no idea. I must have been sick and it slipped my mind.I must tell you all that I adored this particular novel the most out of all three of them, and not just because A Midsummer Night’s Dream is my all time favorite Shakespeare play/movie. This novel was so well written and polished, it shown... I also loved the characters, especially the fairies, and everyone and everything fit so well together, it was an absolute joy to behold. As soon as I can, I’m going to purchase the audiobook of it, I loved it that much. I think I will love listening to it time and again.Now, about that narrator, Euan Morton. He is such a gem! I’d recognized his voice as soon as I’d heard him, and it turns out that I’ve just listened to Morton’s narration of the Chalk Man some months ago. And I loved that novel, too.But in this particular case, Euan Morton goes above and beyond his normal narrating duties; every single character was a singular entity, with a different tone/voice and accent included. A couple of the fairies ended up sounding quite like some of the Monty Python members (Terry Jones mostly) when they dress up as middle aged women and speak in a shrill voice. (Remember the Spam scene...? Like that!). That had me tickled every time it happened. But then one of the characters, a “mechanical player” was practicing his own character’s death scene, and began making gurgling/dying noises, and very well acted out and yet it was SO FUNNY, I got the giggles so bad...! Thankfully no one was around, so I didn’t appear to others like I’d gone completely mad.So I will have to say again that Euan Morton is an amazing narrator, and he should be used a lot more by Harper Audio. He made this audiobook *that* much more enjoyable.So if you haven’t read this series yet, please give it a try. It’s every bit as good as Moore’s earlier works, and then some. I think you will enjoy this novel as much as I did.5 stars, and highly recommended to all and sundry.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Cute and clever. Pocket is as crude and adorable as ever.
  • Claudia
    January 1, 1970
    I love Moore...his silliness. Irreverence. Pocket is not a favorite character, and as much as I wanted to love it...I did love his author's note...the story of this book. His frustration with all the names (me, too, Chris. I got lost sometimes). The premise is good...Pocket, who's already tripped thru Lear and Merchant of Venice, finds himself in Midsummer's Night Dream...and the fairies and Puck and Theseus and Titania and the crew. Murder and mayhem ensue. But not the hilarity I'd hope. But I' I love Moore...his silliness. Irreverence. Pocket is not a favorite character, and as much as I wanted to love it...I did love his author's note...the story of this book. His frustration with all the names (me, too, Chris. I got lost sometimes). The premise is good...Pocket, who's already tripped thru Lear and Merchant of Venice, finds himself in Midsummer's Night Dream...and the fairies and Puck and Theseus and Titania and the crew. Murder and mayhem ensue. But not the hilarity I'd hope. But I'm a solid fan. I will be back.
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  • Kyrie
    January 1, 1970
    I just couldn't get past the incredible amount of raunchiness. I need to reread A Midsummer Night's Dream in hopes of getting this one out of my head. Either that or go wash my brain.
  • InBooksILive Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    (I was given an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review))Another Christopher Moore book down and I was, again, not disappointed. I laughed out loud many, many times. I said "what the hell am I reading?!" just as many times. Moore will forever be my favorite hilarious, not making much sense author and lordy I love him for it all! Especially the not making sense part. Only his books will I tolerate it cause only he can do it proper.
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  • Gaele
    January 1, 1970
    Not having read the earlier stories that featured Pocket, there were moments here I worried that I’d not have the background to fully grasp the story. As for Moore’s retelling of a Shakespeare story, I was fortunate enough to have an English teacher who reveled in the ‘naughty’ that was Shakespeare’s dialogue and intent – bringing the satire and salacious to the masses while couched in language that often isn’t obvious to modern eyes. Moore goes a few steps beyond that, his dialogue is approacha Not having read the earlier stories that featured Pocket, there were moments here I worried that I’d not have the background to fully grasp the story. As for Moore’s retelling of a Shakespeare story, I was fortunate enough to have an English teacher who reveled in the ‘naughty’ that was Shakespeare’s dialogue and intent – bringing the satire and salacious to the masses while couched in language that often isn’t obvious to modern eyes. Moore goes a few steps beyond that, his dialogue is approachable, the plot is fast-paced and most (if not all) of the multitudes of characters that are introduced are cleverly inserted with phrases oft repeated, speaking in riddles, and being, in that way only reading the book will illuminate, foul-mouthed and uproariously laughable. The book speaks to the 12-year-old in all of us with the ‘naughty’ tones, while managing to become a solidly readable and enjoyable story that removes the onus of ‘reading Shakespeare’ that lingers for years for many. Wholly derivative, which worked well with Biff, the story gives us a series of moments that feel natural to the plot as we’ve experienced it, as well as those wandering bits into ‘wherever’ that Moore does so well. Not at all linear or organized as a traditional story, characters appear, disappear, are murdered and are suspects in single breaths, and the opportunity to laugh at the situation, the descriptions or even the conversations is never-ending. Yes, there is a mystery, yes there is a monkey with a penchant for hats, and squirrels. Why not? This book is destined to be yet another “read it when I want silly and escape” and it will deliver every single time. Be warned – the language is rough and crude (in all the best ways). The action ranges from detective-like to wholly raving madcap, with some steam and questionable coupling (and tripling) added in the mix. It’s not a story for everyone – but if you’ve never tried a book by Moore, this is one that requires no real ‘knowledge’ of earlier works, only the openness to go on a spinning teacup ride that is mixed up with a roller coaster and a comedy show. If that intrigues, this book is for you! I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. Review first appeared at I am, Indeed
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  • Alisa
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance copy of this bk as a Goodreads Giveaway. We had read another Christopher Moore Book (Biff..) at book club and I was hooked. You do not need to like or even have read Shakespeare to appreciate the wit and snark in this book - heck, you do not even have to like squirrels (but you may look at them a little differently after reading this book). Using the Bard's A Midsommer's Night Dream as a backdrop, Moore has married (pun intended) tom-foolery, the entitlement of kings, the f I received an advance copy of this bk as a Goodreads Giveaway. We had read another Christopher Moore Book (Biff..) at book club and I was hooked. You do not need to like or even have read Shakespeare to appreciate the wit and snark in this book - heck, you do not even have to like squirrels (but you may look at them a little differently after reading this book). Using the Bard's A Midsommer's Night Dream as a backdrop, Moore has married (pun intended) tom-foolery, the entitlement of kings, the follies of young love with some fellows just wanting to put on a play. There are some beautiful passages explaining the good power of fairies to create a bountiful land (although my favorite fairy portion of the book is when one fairy realizes she could make money being a tooth fairy). A little too much foul language and conduct for this reader's sensitive make, but an enjoyable read. And the afterward is a must read for any fan of the Bard's to understand how the author's mind worked in creating his cast of characters. Well worth the read! Thanks Goodreads!
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  • Julie Griffith Buckley
    January 1, 1970
    Pocket and his companions return in a scandalous and scurrilous re-do of Shakespeare's A Middsummer Night's Dream that only Christopher Moore could deliver. Nearly anything else I say about the novel will be a spoiler, and since we cannot have that, I shall only urge anyone of you who is convulsed by broad humor, the overuse of the f word to the point of ridiculousness, or the most unlikely takes on the traditional imaginable to waste no time in acquiring acquiring a copy of Shakespeare's Squirr Pocket and his companions return in a scandalous and scurrilous re-do of Shakespeare's A Middsummer Night's Dream that only Christopher Moore could deliver. Nearly anything else I say about the novel will be a spoiler, and since we cannot have that, I shall only urge anyone of you who is convulsed by broad humor, the overuse of the f word to the point of ridiculousness, or the most unlikely takes on the traditional imaginable to waste no time in acquiring acquiring a copy of Shakespeare's Squirrels and reading it immediately. If you're not laughing out loud by the end of the first paragraph, Your sense of the absurd is in question.
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  • Heatherinblack
    January 1, 1970
    fabulous!love having Fool back. and damn if he isn’t even more clever this time. i greatly enjoyed the integration of shakespeare’s characters. i was a fairy is MSND in elementary school. wish we had been more like these fairies! thank-you mr. moore.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    Such delightful silliness. Everybody's favorite Shakespeare play takes a giant pratfall here. Fairies, snogging and magic galore.
  • Jeannette McCalla
    January 1, 1970
    Silly and wrong but so much fun.
  • Katerina
    January 1, 1970
    Might as well have been called Infinite Jest (and Frolicking in the Woods).
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    I love Christopher Moore. This one is profane, goofy, adolescent and laugh-out-loud funny. Fancy a frolic? Get this!
  • Belles
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the latest adventures of Pocket.
  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    This Shakespearean romp through a Midsummer Night's Dream will not be everyone's cup of tea. It's unapologetically derivative. It's bloody, naughty, hop, skip and jumpy, and still manages to be plenty of fun. I loved it, but your mileage may vary. With Christopher Moore's hand on the pen (or, I suppose, the keyboard) you'll never be able to look a squirrel in the eyes again. Acknowledgement: Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this book, in return for an honest and objective review.
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  • Richard Seltzer
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the wackiest books I've ever read. The author undermines and mocks the reader's every assumption. Though he's not always funny and sometimes it's hard to follow the thread of the story, he dishes out one delightful surprise after another. It's a crazy but memorable ride.
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  • Susie
    January 1, 1970
    Stopped reading it 40% through. Too much like reading a Chaucer bawdy tale with bad language and lots of talk about shagging. Clever and creative writing but just not for me.
  • Tressa23
    January 1, 1970
    Moore is in top form as he takes out Willy Shakes’s most popular play, gets it drunk, invites a scurry of squirrels, has an inter-species threesome, and creates a fairy frolicking Pocket book. Not to be missed!
  • Allen Adams
    January 1, 1970
    https://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/foo...Making someone laugh is hard. Making them laugh with nothing but words on a page is REALLY hard.That’s why the contenders for great comedic literature are so limited; while most writers worth their salt can elicit a few chuckles over the course of a novel, only a scant handful can use comedy as a literary foundation. It’s the difference between books with some comic aspects and legitimate comic novels. There are plenty of the former and surprisingly few of https://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/foo...Making someone laugh is hard. Making them laugh with nothing but words on a page is REALLY hard.That’s why the contenders for great comedic literature are so limited; while most writers worth their salt can elicit a few chuckles over the course of a novel, only a scant handful can use comedy as a literary foundation. It’s the difference between books with some comic aspects and legitimate comic novels. There are plenty of the former and surprisingly few of the latter.Of course, then you have someone like Christopher Moore who totally throws off the curve. See, Moore’s entire bibliography is packed with capital-C Comic novels, including a couple that warrant inclusion among the very best ever (though even lesser Moore is funnier than 99.9% of the self-styled comedic literature out there).His latest is “Shakespeare for Squirrels,” the third in his ongoing series of parodic pastiche featuring the erstwhile fool Pocket of Dog Snogging. Like its predecessors “Fool” and “The Serpent of Venice,” this latest offering drops its nimble, quick-witted and foul-mouthed protagonist into a setting spun off from the brilliance of the Bard.Moore brings his usual satiric edge and keen sense of the absurd to the table, mingling it exquisitely with a thoughtful depth of knowledge with regards to the works of Shakespeare. The resulting combination is bitingly funny and awash in coarse charm, a familiar narrative turned on its head. This book is fast-moving, smart … and utterly, unwaveringly hilarious.Pocket of Dog Snogging – along with his dim-witted hulking apprentice Drool and his hat-horny monkey Jeff – has been cast out by his former pirate cohort. As luck would have it, they wind up cast onto the shores of Greece (though it isn’t anything like any Athens Pocket has ever heard tell of before).Pocket and Drool make their way through the forest (Jeff has absconded into the treetops – probably to hump something), only to stumble into the midst of a VERY complicated story. They meet a quartet of Athenian youths that Pocket finds extremely irritating; the four are involved in some sort of weird love quadrangle that doesn’t make much sense and makes even less sense the longer it goes on.Pocket’s incessant, inherent drive to speak truth to power winds up getting him into some trouble with the Athenian nobility – specifically, Theseus, the duke of Athens. Then there’s Egeus, minister to Theseus, whose daughter is one of the idiotic foursome of young lovers. Hippolyta, Amazonian queen and reluctant consort to the duke, has her own agenda.Somewhere in there, Pocket winds up inadvertently becoming the creative inspiration for a group of rough tradesmen – rude mechanicals, led by the charmingly goofy weaver Nick Bottom – who are in the forest trying (and largely failing) to put together a play to celebrate the impending nuptials of the duke.Oh, and there are fairies in the woods. Pocket winds up canoodling with one named Cobweb, but it’s when he crosses paths with fairy queen Titania that things get … complicated. These complications lead to interactions with all manner of fae folk, including the dark king Oberon, his goblin army and the mightily magical Robin Goodfellow – Puck himself.But when Puck is murdered, it falls to Pocket to determine who – or what – was responsible for the death of the magical prankster. At every turn, the mystery deepens, for it seems that Athens is simply jammed with people who have reason to wish the Puck dead. Pocket is left with no choice but to hurl himself headlong into the midst of all of it with nothing more than his wits, his trusty throwing knives, his puppet stick and a few fellow travelers, undertaking to double- and triple-cross anyone and everyone until he can root out the culprit … whoever he, she or it might be.“Shakespeare for Squirrels” follows a similar pattern to the two Pocket-led works that came before, using a primary Shakespeare work – in this case, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – as the narrative foundation while happily playing fast and loose with the details, up to and including the incorporation of elements from other Shakespeare plays. Moore’s love for and knowledge of the Bard’s works leads to stories that serve as heartfelt homages even as he’s very clearly taking the piss.And he’s DEFINITELY taking the piss with this one, packing the pages with joke after parodic joke; it’s rife with legit laughs (one of my personal favorite bits is a running gag in which Pocket perpetually expresses confusion at the fact that the Athens of this world bears zero resemblance to, you know, the actual Athens). There are dick jokes and f-bombs, and all that stuff works, but maybe the most impressive laughs Moore gets is through his slapstick set pieces – making physical comedy funny on the page is incredibly difficult, though you’d never know it from this book.Let’s talk about Pocket, who with this appearance firmly ensconces himself as Moore’s second-funniest creation, behind only Biff from “Lamb.” He’s sharp and smart and sly, displaying the self-awareness that marks Moore’s best characters. He’s also a jerk, but a charming one; he can’t help but try and help those who need it, even when he knows it’s against his own best interests. He’s a tiny bundle of humor, hubris and horniness – with bells on.He’s not alone, though. The dramatis personae for this one might be the weirdest of the Fool books so far. The relentlessly good-natured Bottom. The entitled and enchanted lovers (whose fates are quite different than in the play). The mad Titania and the kind-of-thick Oberon. Capable fairy and Pocket love interest Cobweb. Blacktooth is a fun riff on Dogberry from “Much Ado About Nothing.” Oh, and then there’s Rumour, the self-styled narrator whose tremendous strangeness shouldn’t be spoiled – enjoy it when you get there.“Shakespeare for Squirrels” delights in squeezing and twisting a beloved story in ways both broad and subtle, all in service to wringing more laughs from the proceedings. Moore continues to cement his spot as popular fiction’s funniest writer, giving us a sharp and sardonic adventure. No one strikes the balance between highbrow and lowbrow like he does – this book is just the latest example of the tremendous comedic gifts he brings to bear. Fans of comic fiction, mystery stories and/or the Bard will have a hell of a good time.So go ahead and get fooled again – you’ll be glad you did.
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