I always get the feeling that there are certain writers out there who you’re supposed to love if you are truly a cutting-edge book person. Helen Oyeyemi is one of them. I’ve always read positive things about her books, yet there was something holding me back from diving in. That is, until I received Mr Fox as part of my Willoughby Book Club subscription. I almost always adore the books they send me, and out of all of Oyeyemi’s books, Mr Fox is the one that appeals to me the most.
Now I must confess, dear read, that i didn’t finish Mr Fox. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even understand Mr Fox and I didn’t think things were going to get anymore clear if I continued. I read more than half and felt very little beyond confused.
Mr Fox is one of those novels that plays with narrative. What is real and what is imagined? dreamed? happening in a parallel universe? remains deliberately obscured. Mr Fox is a writer who is haunted by his muse, Mary Foxe. Not only that, Mr Fox has a penchant for killing off the women in his stories and Mary tries to put a stop to this.
Part of the story takes place in the 1930s and part is modern day (the cell phones give that fact away). Some of the little snippets of story were brilliant and highly entertaining, some were just confusing. And I never got a sense of how it all hung together.
Who would like this book? I like my books based in reality. True, with fiction it is an imagined reality, but there is always the sense that things in the novels I like could happen. That is why i don’t read fantasy and never have. Mr Fox will appeal to those who enjoy some heady magical realism. When I do a search of magic realism on my blog i see that two other DNFs come up: I Am Radar by Reif Larson and How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer. Maybe people who liked those books will like Mr Fox.
I like magical realism, but I don’t get the big deal about Oyeyemi either. I thought Boy Snow Bird was good, not great ,and certainly not life-changing as advertised.
The thing is, I wanted to like Mr Fox. I tried so hard.
I do really like “White is for Witching.” Good literary horror with a twist: what if the haunted house is racist. I haven’t liked her others near as much, but I keep trying because “White is for Witching” was worth it.
I don’t like horror, but the premise sounds great.
I like books that play with narrative structure, but books where I can’t tell what happened are just frustrating.
At first I really liked the play and then it went about 5 steps too far for me.