Review: Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore

Oh, how happy I was to see this! I’m a big Christopher Moore fan in general and I have really enjoyed the adventures of his court jester, Pocket of Dog Snogging, in Fool and The Serpent of Venice. This one had to be even more fun because: Squirrels! But let’s start with the Afterword:

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is my favorite Shakespeare play — it’s the only one I’ve ever made it all the way through without thinking about things I’m going to at — and you, sir, have besmirched this delightful, spirited sex comedy with murder, goblins, and gratuitous squirrel shagging. You, sir, you cad, you dilettante, you scrofulous scribbler of unscrupulous satire, have made a sow’s ear out of a perfectly lovely silk purse. Why? Why, why, why?”

I put that here for a couple of reasons. For one thing, because no one ever reads the Afterword and it’s a perfectly lovely bit of prose (even if I had to Google “scrofulous”) and I didn’t want you to miss it. Primarily, though, it’s a lovely introduction and sums the story up quite nicely. Shakespeare for Squirrels takes all the fun and naughty innuendo of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and adds goblins, squirrels, fairies, and frolicking.

I’ve seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream interpreted a number of ways (a shirtless Puck with a goatee and black leather pants, one memorable evening), but never quite like this. Our favorite fool, Pocket, has been set adrift by pirates and washed up on the shores near Athens with his apprentice, Drool, and…ooops. Jeff, the hat-shagging monkey, is nowhere in sight and feared lost at sea.

Things go a bit sideways from there. They run into a group of Mechanicals, “polite loonies” who are rehearsing a play for the king’s wedding.

They were not gentlemen attired in togas, prosecuting a republic, and having each other up the bum, like proper Greeks, but hard-handed men, in leather and wool, each composed of wire and gristle into such sharp-jawed countenance as is shaped by hard work and lean diet.

And it goes on like that. The language and phrasing are truly a pleasure and if you skim past too quickly, you’ll miss some delicious naughty bit. If you’re familiar with the play, you’ll recognize some of the characters but I can guarantee they won’t be exactly what you’re expecting — and you won’t mind a bit.

My copy of Shakespeare for Squirrels came from my personal library because I couldn’t wait for a review copy and had to pre-order it. You can order your copy by clicking on the image below.

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