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Mr. Fox Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 29, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 29, 2011
$16.07 $6.67

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox uses a series of interconnected vignettes to capture the love triangle between wry, self-absorbed writer St. John Fox, his wife, Daphne, and his imagined muse, Mary Foxe. As his muse Mary takes form on the page, St. John struggles to maintain his already tenuous marriage. Through different time periods and characters, he writes and rewrites Mary Foxe as an embodiment of unrequited love: the young girl who removes her heart to alleviate heartache; the nanny tasked with caring for a cold, apathetic teenager; the fearful daughter reliving her father’s stories of the tragedies that befall rebellious children. Through them all is the shared and often feverish complexity that comes with sustained relationships. Oyeyemi published The Icarus Girl at just 19, so it’s no wonder that this, her fourth novel, sets a high literary bar. With clever, tender, and often poignant prose, she captures the magic and heartbreak of the love story. --Heather Dileepan

Amazon.com Review

Ali Smith, Booker Prize–nominated, best-selling author of There But For The, and The Accidental, interviews Helen Oyeyemi about Mr. Fox

Helen Oyeyemi

Smith: What’s in a name? Why is Mr. Fox called Mr. Fox?

Oyeyemi: Mr. Fox is called Mr. Fox because I think of him as both wild and urbane; also he’s a namesake of the English Bluebeard and an even older mythological lady killer, Reynardine (from the French for fox, Reynard). This book is full of foxes and foxgloves and fox trotting and all things fox. As to why the book itself is called Mr. Fox, that’s partly because calling it Mary Foxe seemed like bad luck for Mary--books and films that have a woman’s name as their title seem to end up with the woman dead or insane or bereft in some way, and I like Mary too much for that. But also one of my favorite writers, Barbara Comyns, wrote a book about a wily man called Mr. Fox in 1987, and even though I didn’t know about it or read it until I’d finished writing about my own Mr. Fox, I can’t help but think that’s got something to do with this business somehow.

Smith: Where does this story come from and did it go where you thought it would go? What was the process of writing this one like?

Oyeyemi: This story comes from having read Rebecca, which made me want to have a go at writing a Bluebeard story. Then I started reading (and re-reading) Bluebeard variants, from Jane Eyre to Alice Hoffmann’s Blue Diary to the Joseph Jacobs fairy tale “Mr. Fox,” which features a kind of linguistic battle between Mr. F. and the heroine, Lady Mary, who witnesses a murder he commits and has the guts to tell him all about himself to his face. So then I had two characters, and I was off.

Smith: What does it mean to lose the plot? Is story different from plot? If so, how, and do they need each other? And why or why not?

Oyeyemi: I reckon losing the plot means finding the story. The plot gets you from A to B and home again, but the story is the surrounding wilderness that you wander into, and then the bears come, and it’s impossible to tell which ones would like to invite you to a picnic and which ones would like to make a picnic of you, because they look exactly the same until you’re right up close. So I think you do need plot if you’d rather not risk approaching a story’s bears, either as a reader or a writer--it depends on what sort of story it is. Some stories don’t have very interesting bears. (Maybe you don’t agree? Maybe you think all bears of this kind are interesting, or at least, more interesting than the plot path?)

Smith: If you, like me, think that books produce books, which books are germinal to this one? And if you don’t think that, then where do books come from?

Ali Smith

Oyeyemi: Yes, books beget books; I’d say they’re the leading cause of today’s plague of books, and may we never be cured. Rebecca caused this one, and Marina Warner’s From the Beast to the Blonde, Anne Sexton’s Transformations, Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop, Gombrowicz’s Bacacay, Daniil Kharms’s Incidences, Susanna Moore’s In the Cut, and Barbara Comyns’s The Vet’s Daughter, too.

Smith: What was in your pockets when you began this book, and what’s in them now that you’ve finished it? i.e., what’s next?

Oyeyemi: When I started writing Mr. Fox, it was summer, and I was interested in cupcakes and foxes and Mills and Boon books written in the 1930s. Now I’m interested in fudge and wolves and self-appointed executioners.

Thank you for asking me these questions; they’re a delight.

(Photo of Helen Oyeyemi © Saneesh Sukumaran)

(Photo of Ali Smith ©Sarah Wood)


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (September 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448807X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488078
  • ASIN: B007HW3NPS
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,192,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Generally speaking, most fiction worth pursuing is on my radar, but somehow both Helen Oyeyemi and her latest novel, Mr. Fox, passed me by completely until they showed up on Audible.com's Best Audiobooks of the Year list. (And rightly so, reader Carol Boyd gives a standout performance.)

Mr. Fox is different. It is the story of the love triangle between a writer and his unruly muse (Always an excellent starting point!) and his flesh and blood wife. But don't for a minute think things are as straightforward as all that. The love triangle and the muse's struggle for independence are merely the base of a novel comprised of constantly shifting stories, each of which feature an iteration of writer St. John Fox and his imagined perfect woman Mary Foxe. In one, he's a psychologist and she a model. In another, they are children in an African village. In one he's an actual fox and she an old woman. The imagery of all things foxy is pervasive, from foxes both human and animal to foxglove flowers and foxholes.

Here is an illustrative conversation between writer and muse:

"'Mary, I think I know what we're trying to do with this game of ours.'
`Tell me.'
`We've been trying to fall in love.'
She raised her eyebrows. `With each other?' she asked coolly.
`Would you let me finish?'
`With pleasure.'
`We've been trying to fall in love, yes with each other, but we've been trying to take some of the danger out of it so no one ends up maimed or dead. We're trying for something normal and nice.'
Mary folded her arms. `That is not what we're trying to do.'
`Oh, what then?'
`Your wife loves you. Turn to her properly. Stop fobbing her off and being a counterfeit companion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In her latest novel, the acclaimed bestselling author, Helen Oyeyemi, takes us on a magical and utmost bizarre journey into the depths of one's imagination. Mr.Fox is a fascinating and inventive blend of stories, skillfully layered together to create a truly phenomenal work of fiction. Bursting with flavors, charming and thrilling at the same time, beautifully written - it's a novel one can't afford to miss out on. You haven't read literature, if you haven't read Helen Oyeyemi's books.

I wasn't sure how to approach writing this review. After finishing Mr.Fox I sat a long time in silence, slightly light-headed and with no clue what to think about it. I still don't know to be honest. I feel like I need to read it again to fully grasp the message that's undoubtedly hidden between the lines. In fact, I think I'd need to re-read it not once, but a couple of times more. There are just so many details, so many nuances that are all to easy to miss, and I feel that I ought to collect them all to get the whole picture. There's so much going on on the pages of Mr.Fox, so many different stories are being told here, so many shifts - in narration, time, even reality! This is a novel that requires 100% of your focus and sponge-like brain to absorb all that.

I won't even try to summarize this novel. There's no way I could do that without giving away too much. And in case of this novel, anything I'd tell you about the plot or characters would be way too much. The complexity of this novel totally overwhelmed me at first, I felt lost and confused.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Fox is about the most enchanting and captivating book I have read in quite some time. Helen Oyeyemi is a highly inventive and multi-faceted storyteller. Her characters are both anchored in reality and in the worlds of fantasy and fairy tales. They can be serious or funny and ironic, they can fall in love beyond bounds or hate with a passion, they can be docile and subdued or vicious and violent. Underneath it all are serious issues being addressed despite the playful manner in which the novel is written. The stories within this story jump with ease from one level of reality to another and back at the blink of an eye. If there is anything like a plot, it is secondary to the characters and stories they live and/or imagine for themselves and for each other. What is it about? Well, that is difficult to explain without revealing too much. The enjoyment is in the exploring of it bit by bit...

Just a few hints: Remember the story of Bluebeard? The noble man who had a track record of killing his young wives because they were too curious? Until, that is, when he came across one that was the right match for him: she fought back. There is also an ancient, similar story of a Mister Fox... and foxes are important to Oyeyemi's story. With Mr. Fox she has created a modern version of the old fairy tale, adding modern life's complexities through any number of original twists and turns. Her Mr. St. John Fox is a well-known writer who creates stories where, unfortunately, the heroine... well, you get the sense of it. Until a female challenger turns up and everything is up for grabs. To add another layer to the stories, there are three in this union...

Mr. Fox is a book that will not be great fun for readers who like a linear plot or story lines.
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