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Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Mr. Fox" by Helen Oyeyemi



"Solitary people, these book lovers. 
I think it's swell that there are people you don't have to worry about 
when you don't see them for a long time, 
you don't have to wonder what they do, how they're getting along with themselves. 
You just know that they're all right, and probably doing something they like." 
-- from Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Writer St. John Fox has a penchant for killing his heroines and the women in his life don't like it, not one bit. Nor are they terribly keen on each other. So it is that Mr. Fox's wife, Daphne, and his muse, Mary, each vie for his attention and affections while trying to avoid the inevitable losses that come with love. To Oyeyemi's great credit, their insightful discoveries touch upon habits, idiosyncrasies and dilemnas of all who seek love and understanding from those we care for the most.

"The girl tried, several times, to give her love away, but her love would not stay with the person she gave it to and snuck back to her heart without a sound."

Helen Oyeyemi's fascination with fairy tales is in fine form here, but Mr. Fox is no Grimm retelling.  For all its swift slayings, bodily severings, decapitations and such, Mr. Fox never loses the lightness of a game for three players where the scenes change and the characters dance in different directions, uncertain of each others' affections but always in each others' sights.

Note, a little guidance getting started with Oyeyemi is a good thing, for she is a writer and observer unlike any other. Eleanor Wachtel's 2014 interview with Helen Oyeyemi is just the ticket here