Sacre Bleu

Chris, we love your f&ckD-UP-ED-NESS. That’s why we read you. Your vampire trilogy, your Lust Lizard, your alien Whales, that’s why we love you. This latest venture into historical fiction just doesn’t ring as true to you. While this book is most definitely f&ckD-up, it lacks your creative genius–it is too hampered by fact. I feel like you wrote this book sotally tober, and I am disappointed in you for that.

This book is roughly about the color blue, the sacred blue used to paint the Virgin’s robes in religious works from the middle ages onward. The term “sacre bleu” refers to the heavens, to the sacred, and is therefore also a curse word. Moore follows Vincent Van Gogh’s last mad, suicidal moments and asks the question, “What kind of man commits suicide by shooting himself in the chest and then walking over a mile to a doctor’s house to seek medical treatment?” Suspicious? Moore was, and thus this book. Moore follows Toulouse-Lautrec as he waddles/limps all over Pigalle, spending his youth in brothels and his mid-days with a baker/painter friend who aspires to artistic endeavors of which his family disapproves. The two together stumble upon the secret to the color ultramarine, the sacre bleu, and the disturbing trend of many of their artist friends succumbing to the madness of syphilis. The two phenomena are related. That’s very Moore for you.

Toulouse-Lautrec is already a Moore character, by all popular accounts: a drunk, a debaucher, a lover of women and wine and weirdness. But the other characters are so boring because Moore is trying so hard to use real people and the research he’s done to write the book. He does a lovely muse character, Bleu herself, and her twisted master, The Colorman. But the other real people muddy the water. The pacing is slow; I found myself wandering over to coming attractions.

The book is beautifully printed; Moore has been so successful he was able to convince his publisher to go to the expense of printing the text in a deep purple instead of black and there are color reproductions of much of the art discussed in the book. I really appreciate those features. But I wish Moore had been a little less pedantic and a little more…inebriated? while composing this one. Still, I give it 4 stars because there are laugh-out-loud moments only Moore could give. And that’s worth quite a bit, at any rate.


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