Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

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Reason to show off my cute fox ornament that I forgot to put away with the other Christmas decorations.

 

Honestly, this is hardly going to be a review. Mr. Fox confused the hell out of me. I had never read Helen Oyeyemi before, but this came in the most recent Book Riot Quarterly box and she seemed well-liked, so I was excited to read it. The premise is that there’s this guy, Mr. Fox, and he keeps killing off the heroines in his novels. His muse, fictional Mary Foxe, comes to life and tries to kind of teach him a lesson. His wife, Daphne, thinks he’s having an affair. And ummmm it becomes a weird love triangle thing? And there are multiple short stories/chapters in which Mr. Fox and Mary Foxe seem to be different characters.

I don’t want to be unfair – I think I’m just glaringly not “getting” something. I was confused through most of the novel, and I think I mostly skimmed the last 30-50 pages because I was just ready to be done. HOWEVER. There was some beautiful writing happening here. I mainly decided to do this review just so that I could single out some of my favorite highlighted lines –

“It was interesting to know that I’d married someone who could cause this much destruction on a hunch. It made me like her more.”

“Miss Foxe liked to be near the flowers, especially in winter, when it was easy to forget that there had ever been such a thing as a flower.”

“And now that he’s gone she’d rather not talk to anyone else. Solitary people, these book lovers.”

“The words didn’t come easily. She put large spaces between some of them for fear they would attack one another.”

“There were days when he touched the tip of her nose and it was enough, a miracle of plenty.”

See? How wonderful are these?? Helen Oyeyemi is clearly a skilled writer, and I enjoyed the short stories in the book on their own… they just confused me as part of the major storyline. I’m going to try more of her work. The Icarus Girl is currently on Oyster, and Boy, Snow, Bird was a pretty popular novel last year and I can probably get it from my library. I think Mr. Fox just maybe wasn’t the right place to start.

Have you read any of Helen Oyeyemi’s novels before? Do you have a favorite?

Sarah Says: 2.5 stars

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16 comments

  1. I’ve skipped Mr. Fox because I haven’t heard the best things about it. Boy Snow Bird is a fantastic read, though the last 20 pages should’ve been omitted. I recommend reading it as your next Oyeyemi.

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  2. I put Helen Oyeyemi as one of my “watch” authors for 2015 because I’ve heard so much about her, especially since Boy, Snow, Bird came out that I’m curious. Good thing to know about Mr. Fox – I will start somewhere else.

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  3. I’ve thought of trying her Boy, Snow, Bird – I didn’t know much about Mr Fox. Sounds like it’s a pretty confusing story but I tend to like those so maybe I should give it a try anyway. I do like the cover – it’s in the vein of them old fables.

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  4. All of her books I’ve read (Boy, Snow, Bird; White is for Witching) have been unusually odd and off-putting for me. There was a lot of not getting it, and I always felt like she had too many balls in the air. Too many cool things she was trying to do without accomplishing any of them. I don’t think I’ll try this one.

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  5. I wouldn’t worry too much about “getting” Helen Oyeyemi — I never do. She has a strange and dreamy way of plotting books that’s not super similar to the way other humans do plots. I love her anyway, for her writing, but I admit that Mr. Fox was the most bewildering of her books. Read White Is for Witching! I love that one! Boy, Snow, Bird is also VERY good, but then it has a really terrible ending that makes you mad at the rest of the book.

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    1. I left that comment and then I thought “You are the biggest douchebag in the world for putting ‘getting’ in air quotes.” So I came back to swear that I am not a douchebag! Ordinarily if I do not understand what an author is on about, I give up on them in a rage. But with Helen Oyeyemi, I so love her writing and the moods she creates, it’s enough for me, even without exactly feeling certain what’s happening. And also, Mr. Fox was extremely confusing even by her standards.

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    2. “that’s not super similar to the way other humans do plots. ”

      LOL. I’m going to try another of hers… but I don’t know which yet. Depends on what comes up on Oyster or the library, I think.

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  6. This very much sounds like a book I wouldn’t get either. Maybe I’ll start with Boy, Snow, Bird before going with this (you know, if I make it to this point)

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