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Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (thoughts)

December 12, 2011

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.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2011 9:29 am

    This author sounds really good. I will have to ILL her in the New Year as my library has never heard of her…

    • December 15, 2011 10:55 pm

      Silly library! I just made mine buy the only one it was missing (Opposite House, her second novel). ;)

  2. December 12, 2011 2:48 pm

    I already borrowed Mr. Fox from the library once, but did not have time to read it back then. I really want to read it, though. What I know of the novel, it do sound very interesting. And I love the cover of the British edition. :) It’s got a nice 1930s feel to it.

  3. December 12, 2011 4:50 pm

    I read this recently and really enjoyed it (although I haven’t written a review yet). I first heard of Oyeyemi through your blog, so thanks for introducing be to a great new author. I’m sure I’m going to be seeking out her older novels soon.

    • December 15, 2011 10:57 pm

      Oh yay! I’m so happy you liked her MJ. :)

  4. December 12, 2011 5:07 pm

    I was so lucky to go to a reading with Oyeyemi recently. There were four authors but I just took along her four books. She was a bit surprised that they were all for her, ahem. I’ve only read 2 of 4 so far but have broken the 3 book rule because I loved them both so much!

  5. December 12, 2011 5:26 pm

    Love love that cover. I have an affinity for foxes as well, and is probably behind my interest into that book called Lady Into Fox.

  6. December 12, 2011 5:37 pm

    Hurrah! I’m glad you liked it! I still like WifW a teeny bit better, but I’m so pleased that Helen Oyeyemi keeps writing awesome things. With every successive book I’m afraid she’s going to stop being awesome but so far she hasn’t AT ALL.

    (Writing this comment made me realize I still haven’t written up my review of this book. Bother! I have to get to that.)

    • December 15, 2011 10:57 pm

      Every book of hers I read becomes my new favourite, lol. I’m going to have to reread WifW soon! Also, I need to mail you back your book! Sorry it’s taken me ages. :o

  7. Ruthiella permalink
    December 12, 2011 5:50 pm

    I am glad you will be adding more authors to your side bar. You have almost exahusted the existing ones in your “Assembling my Athenaeum” series and I would be sad to see that at an end!

    • December 15, 2011 10:58 pm

      Aww: thanks Ruthiella! Yep, the new year will probably see some re-shuffling. It’s difficult to decide who should be there, I have so many favourites.

  8. December 12, 2011 7:30 pm

    I have yet to try Oyeyemi but she seems like an author I would love. I don’t know much about this book except that it’s been well-received so I’ll try and leave it at that. And I’ll add her to my “must read” list for next year!

  9. December 12, 2011 8:29 pm

    I’ve been really curious about this one based on the cover alone!! Sounds really really good! I think I’ll pick it up next time I walk past it ;)

  10. December 13, 2011 3:16 pm

    Dear Eva, I must stop visiting your blog because your lovely reviews are having an appalling effect on my wallet. I have only read ‘The Icarus Girl’ which was good, and amazing for a first novel. This one sounds right up my street…

    • December 15, 2011 10:59 pm

      I promise to post only about bad books for the next month to give your wallet a break. ;) Icarus Girl was definitely one of the best debuts I’ve ever read: so self-assured and individual without being overly affected!

  11. Caroline permalink
    December 14, 2011 12:14 am

    After so many glowing reviews here for Oyoyemi, I really must give her a try (I’ve loved many other books you’ve recommended – you have such great taste, Eva!). Love the cover, too. Off to the library I go!

    • December 15, 2011 10:58 pm

      Thanks for such a sweet comment Caroline!

  12. Caroline permalink
    December 14, 2011 12:14 am

    Whoops, Oyeyemi! Might help me search the library catalogue if I can spell the author’s name correctly!

  13. December 14, 2011 9:45 am

    Ooo, Eva, you do know how to lure me in – those last couple sentences did it. I even have a review copy of this (with a very different cover – presumably UK/US thing?) but after failing miserably with White is for Witching, I have been wary. If it’s a bit more wrapped up than that, then I’ll be happy!

    • December 15, 2011 11:04 pm

      Hmmm…Mr. Fox is definitely more wrapped up than WifW. It’s also easier to figure out what’s going on. And the ending is more straight forward. But there are still lose strings left, and the first few chapters plunge you right in, so if you haven’t read a summary it’ll take a bit to get your bearings. Does that help you decide at all? I found Icarus Girl to be a lot more ‘traditional’ then either Mr. Fox or WifW.

  14. December 19, 2011 4:41 pm

    Thanks for the review Eva. I think the cover of this one is so beautiful as well, and I really want to read it. I quoted from your review and linked back to you in my Top Ten Tuesday this week, which will be up tomorrow.

  15. December 27, 2011 11:19 pm

    I’ve never read any Oyeyemi, even though I have all her stuff high on my TBR list. I had hoped to read Mr. Fox in December, but that’s not gonna happen. I WILL read it in January!.


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