Book Review: Mr. Fox

10_br_mrfoxRead for: FABClub March/April 2014 Selection
Rating: 4/5
Helen Oyeyemi is a marvelous writer and Mr. Fox is a marvelous book. I suppose it could be described as an “experimental novel” in that it is a novel, but doesn’t follow a typical narrative from start to finish. Instead it is composed of a series of short stories or vignettes tied together by a common thread. The story begins with Mr. Fox being approached by his muse Mary Foxe, and being told to stop murdering women. The women in his novels, that is. Mr. Fox is a writer, and like many, many writers, he enjoys creating women characters only so they can be killed in his stories. This is something that I have been increasingly bothered by in books, movies and on TV… the proliferation of women victims. They are everywhere! CSI, Law and Order, Cold Case Files… all these shows (and especially L&O Special Victims Unit – which focuses exclusively on sexually based crimes, thanks very much) all love portraying the women victim. Books like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo especially made me purple in the face with rage when it became all anyone could talk about. Are we really so desensitized that the murder of women ain’t no thang? That we will trudge through 800+ pages of violence against women and then rave about what an incredible experience it was? It grosses me out. And I was very pleased to see Oyeyemi writing about this in her own fantastic way. Mary leads Mr. Fox through a series of literary adventures both real and fantastic, eventually drawing in his wife Daphne. My favorite section was the short story (the longest of the bunch) entitled “What Happens Next” in which Mary meets Mr. Fox on a plane after the woman seated next to her has died. It sounds grim, but Oyeyemi has a way of putting words together that are heavy but simultaneously whimsical. In the end, this isn’t a book I can describe to anyone. You just have to read it.

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