Tuesday, May 22, 2012

sacré bleu

Sacré Bleu: A Comedy D'Art  is the latest by Christopher Moore of Lamb fame. Moore is up there with Tom Robbins as a favorite comedy writer of mine. They both have streak of raw insanity running through their prose, and while their particular forms of off-kilter-ness are different, they each bring a unique perspective to their writing.

The hardcover comes with a half-jacket that modestly covers la petite femme bleu to the shoulders. i'm sure it said something on it.

I saw this pretty, little hard cover sitting at the quick picks table at the library and snapped in up with greedy, ventripotent--one could even say pleonastic--glee! The last Christopher Moore I read was Fool, which I enjoyed, so I was excited to see this one at the library. But when I say pretty, I really mean pretty. The case is obviously decorated with this beautiful illustration by Aly Fell*, partially covered by a half jacket; the endpapers depict a groovy old tourist map of Paris; the pages are deckle edged; and the entire book is printed in blue! Its crazy, right! Its a love note to book lovers. designed by Jamie Lynn Kerner.

This is a story about blue, and about artists. Specifically: Impressionists in Paris in the 1890s. Sacré Bleu follows the story of a young artist named Lucien Lessard, as he tries to make his way in the art world, make a name for himself, and make his family proud. Lessard is no one, but the artists he knows, learns from, talks with, even takes lessons with, are the giants of Impressionism... you know, sort of.

In the backmatter, Moore has a little essay on what is real and what isn't in this story. Obviously, the names and the places and the world events are mostly true, but he has clearly taken some liberties with some of the finer details with these famous painters--who are no longer around to defend themselves. What this story is really about is their muse. What inspired them; drove them to create some of the most exciting and daring art the world had ever seen, and in some cases, even drove them mad.

This was different from the other two Moore books I've read, in that it isn't a retelling of a well known story, but is a sort of historical-ish, fictiony thing. Not quite as funny as the other two, but very entertaining from beginning to end and some serious belly laughs throughout.  To good, really to simply label as comedy. Its funny, yes, but first, its a good story. Speculative-Historical-Fiction? Go get some.

You can read a sample of Sacré Bleu here on Christorpher Moore's site if you're interested.

* An interesting side bit about Alastair (Aly) Fell and the illustration he did for the cover; it seems that he recreated an old-timey Absinthe poster featuring La Fée Verte in 2010, which he then modified for the book illustration. More here.

1 comment:

  1. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec!!! He's the guy to count on if one wants to have some drunk artistic fun! Coincidentally, he is also an old and intimate friend of mine since he performed the miracle of actually waking me up during art lesson.
    Oh, good old Henri!


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