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Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art: 01/15/13

cover art

Start with Albert Brook's 1999 film The Muse, change the setting to Paris when Impressionism was the hot new art style and throw in some color reproductions of famous paintings with completely cheeky captions and you have the foundation for Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore.

The book opens with the death of Vincent van Gogh. While it's not quite the Doctor Who version, I did happen to start the book right after re-watching "Vincent and the Doctor" (series five, episode ten). The coincidence certainly put me in the right mood for Moore's book.

Sacré bleu (ultramarine) — the blue once reserved for the Virgin's clothing — was one of the most sought after but hard to come by pigments. As this color is so crucial to the flow of the story — the cover is done in shades of blue. Likewise, the text is printed in a very dark but distinctly blue shade.

Moore uses the color as the set up to introduce a muse — Blue — and the parasite who feeds off the creativity she inspires. This parasite provides access to his especially potent blue pigment to specially chosen artists. The blue has certain properties that allow the artist time to finish more complex pieces. The downside, though, is the madness and ill-health that comes from such an outpouring of creativity and productivity.

Most of the book follows a fictional baker who has the desire to paint. He falls into an unlikely friendship with Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Welcome to the world of sex, drugs and burlesque.

Sacré Bleu has risen to the top of my all time favorite Christopher Moore books. While his bawdy humor is still there, it's matured from the previous sophomoric affairs to something more refined.

Five stars

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