Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mr. Fox - Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi's first novel, Icarus Girl, was published when she was only eighteen. Mr. Fox is Oyeyemi's fourth novel and the first for this reader.

I don't often read a novel more than once. With Mr. Fox, I did - because I felt I really didn't 'get it' the first time around. I don't think I would have grasped the concept without the publisher's blurb to l guide me initially. From Hamish Hamilton Canada:

" ... concerns Mr. Fox, who does devilish things to the heroines of his stories. When his imaginary muse—the gorgeously offbeat Mary Foxe—conjures herself one sunny afternoon and confronts him about his dark denouements, things take an unexpected turn. Mary challenges Mr. Fox to join her in stories of their own devising, and their romances put our villainous writer through his paces, exploring every facet of love."

But, I did fall in love with Oyeyemi's storytelling. She skillfully takes fantasy and folklore, reworks and retells them with a magical bent. There are nine such stories and I thought many of them could have been expanded and stood alone as a novel. I enjoyed each story as a separate piece. And this is where the rereading came in for me. I had to go back after finishing the book the first time and reread it again, taking a deeper look at the connections, the nuances and the delicate thread hidden under the surface tying all of it together. And I think I could probably read it a third time and discover more. Oyeyemi is a very talented writer - her language and turns of phrase are unexpected and fresh.

Mr. Fox is not for those looking for a quick read, but more for those looking to challenge their thoughts on love and relationships. Read an excerpt of Mr. Fox.

Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984 and raised in London. She is the author of three novels: The Icarus Girl, which was completed before her nineteenth birthday; The Opposite House, which was nominated for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and White is for Witching, which was nominated for a 2009 Shirley Jackson award and won the 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. She is also the author of two plays, Juniper’s Whitening and Victimese.

Check out what others on the blog tour thought: (And this great interview with NPR)


bermudaonion said...

Hm, if you had to read this twice to understand it, it's probably not for me.

Anonymous said...

Rereading a book again to discover other layers is more than I can handle, yet I appreciate that you did it to give us readers a chance to understand Oyeyemi's writing. It does sound like she's a good storyteller.

Luanne said...

Kathy and Angie - Reading something twice is definitely something I don't want to repeat too often - I felt like I was back in school, rather than reading for enjoyment.