Mr. Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi

  • Aug. 7th, 2011 at 10:18 PM
branewurms: (Utena - secret of the Rose Bride)
Okay guys, I have like a bajilionity book quote reviews unquote since the last time I did a book post, but I'm going to post this one separately because it deserves special attention! And by that I mean I want you all to go read it and then COME BACK AND TALK TO MEEEE omg I want to babble senselessly about this book with people so bad. :(

(It's not out in the US yet. I was so excited to get the new Oyeyemi that I ordered it from Europe on Abebooks, errrr. But if you're in the US and want to wait until late September, here it is on Amazon!)

Mr. Fox's frame story takes place in the 1930s. It's about this jerk, St John Fox, who's a writer with a propensity for killing off all his heroines in ridiculously gruesome ways. His long-absent muse, Mary Foxe, shows up to berate him for being such an asshole - he's a killer, she says, and she doesn't want him like this. He protests! He's not an asshole! It's not like he's actually killing these fine ladies! It's all just games, don't you understand, it's not like it means anything! So Mary challenges him to another game: they each take turns ensnaring each other in stories - stories that ignore the constraints of time and location and reality - where they play the main characters. Through this game Mary hopes to teach him a lesson. Eventually, Mr. Fox's wife, Daphne, gets involved, thinking he's having some kind of affair.

You guys, THIS BOOK. It's really great. It was also very familiar to me on this uncanny, semi-subconscious level - like, YES, I recognize this, these things, they're in my head too! It has been many years since a book touched me on such a personal level. I think the only book that's ever been more eerily familiar to me than this was The Etched City. (...Although I hasten to add that the two books are not particularly alike at all. I do think there's a good chance that if you like one, you'd like the other, considering they're both from the weirder side of the tracks, and they're both very good.)

Helpful note: It helps to be familiar with Bluebeard/Fitcher's Bird/Mister Fox/other fairy tales following the Bluebeard motif going into this book. Also, Reynardine.

My quote review unquote from goodreads:

Mr. FoxMr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know, I don't know, I don't knowwwww. The more deeply a book touches me, the less I know how to say anything about it. My reaction to this book is kind of like how I feel when I look at the moon; I'm full of all these senseless impulses, I want to eat it, I want to breathe it. It should be cool and bright in my mouth. Every word is luminous and strange and wonderful. I want everyone in the world to read it and love it like I do and talk about it so I can consume all their thoughts, too.

I know this tells you absolutely nothing about what this book was about. How am I supposed to convince people to read it? I just don't even know how to talk about it. It was a novel, and it was also a collection of short stories, and it was about a lot of things like love and creativity and muses and Bluebeard and the nastiness (and laziness) of the tradition of killing off heroines for dramatic impact. It was also wonderful, and you should all read it and talk about it so I can eat your thoughts.

Incidentally I almost wish I had waited for the US hardcover to come out and gotten that edition, because although the Picador edition is made of what looks and feels like high-quality materials, it's designed somewhat poorly so you have to almost wrestle the book open and pin it down to read it, and now there's all this wear on my copy when I'm usually really gentle on books. I don't really mind when this happens with a really cheap paperback, but this wasn't cheap. But if I had waited, I wouldn't have been able to read it for another whole two months, and that would have been TERRIBLE. What if I died tomorrow? Then I would have lived my whole life never having read this book. Horrors!

View all my reviews

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