Friday, May 4, 2012

Sacré Bleu

Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore
There's only one author alive that could get me excited about reading a book about the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art movements in France--Christopher Moore. Moore has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (a book I unwisely chose to be reading while my wife was laboring with our first child--the never-ending giggling and frequent outbursts of loud laughter were not appreciated at the time and are still brought up whenever the birthing experience is discussed.) As much as I enjoy Moore though, I'm very selective about who I recommend his books to. They're not for the easily offended. Nevertheless, they're fantastic!

Sacré Bleu is not your typical Moore book (if a typical Moore book exists). It's not uproariously funny like his previous ones have all been. But that's not to say that it's not funny. But with Sacré Bleu, I think Moore has spread his literary wings and written a book that can stand up among the best books being written today. The amount of research he did is phenomenal and the story has considerable depth. He even created an online chapter guide that includes pictures, paintings, and historical details that I would highly recommend readers include in their reading of the book.

Sacré Bleu is about color, specifically ultramarine blue--the color most prized by artists because of its cost and difficulty in creating. The color was reserved chiefly for painting the robes of Mary and the Christ child during the 14th and 15th centuries and for many years its use was seen as a sort of status symbol of either the painter or the painting's commissioner.

The genesis of the story for Moore was the death of Vincent Van Gogh. Why did the man shoot himself in the chest and then walk a mile to a doctor's residence to seek treatment? Could it have been something other than a suicide attempt? The story that that question led Moore to write takes awhile to unfold. For the first half, I really wasn't certain what was going on, but by the end I was wholly engrossed and highly recommend it. But reader beware, Moore is hilariously crude at times.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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