Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (thoughts)
Having now read Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi’s fourth novel, I feel confident saying that I love, love, love Oyeyemi! I always try to wait until I’ve read three books before declaring someone a favourite author (sidenote: I think I’ll be changing my author sidebar a bit come the new year…it’s tricky because I have so many favourite authors), and Oyeyemi is now firmly on that list. I love the way that she plays with plotting and characters and voice, the way that she leaves everything a bit up in the air, and the way that every page of her writing feels steeped in young, playful, story-loving intelligence.
Mr. Fox is a kind of mash-up of Bluebeard-esque fairy tales, writerly muses gone amok, and women coming into their own. It’s not a straightforward story, a disclaimer I feel I should add for those new to Oyeyemi, but when I turned the final page, I felt quite satisfied. The ends are wrapped up a bit more than in White is for Witching, and there’s so much of a focus on books and stories, both the writing and reading of them, that I think this would be extra-appealing to book bloggers as well.
I find myself not really wanting to tell you anything else; I went into the book ‘blind,’ and I think it made it more fun to puzzle everything out. So I guess this will be a short post, although that in no way reflects upon the book, which I loved. Plus, do you see that cover?! Foxes are one of my favourite animals, and the background colour is one of my favourites as well. It’s as if Oyeyemi and her publishers designed a book just for me. ;) I highly recommend it to those who enjoy ‘twisty’ or experimental fiction, as well as anyone who loves fairy tale retellings.
Suggested Companion Reads
- The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (I actually had pretty mixed feelings about this one back in 2008, but I want to reread it, because I suspect I’d enjoy it far more a second time around. Anyway, it’s a collection of fairy tale retellings.)
- Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugrešić (A feminist take on Baba Yaga, this shares a similarly twisty structure.)
- The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Another modern, Bluebeard-inspired, feminist-informed novel that I just loved.)